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Monday, March 03, 2008

Grin Grin Park

Grin Grin Park in Fukuoka, Japan by Toyo Ito

Photographs are by scarletgreen.

Sitting within Fukuoka's Hakata Bay is Island City, a man-made island built by national and local governments and private interests with container ports, a business hub, and a residential area. This last element includes "environmentally-friendly green parks," the main one being the island's central park, aka Grin Grin Park and designed by Toyo Ito.

While the strict zoning of green space in the island's master plan points to economy over environment, the park's integration of architecture and landscape is a commendable strategy for creating a recreational and education place for residents. The undulating forms provide access to the roof as well as the interior, allowing visitors to witness, for example, the ventilation of the spaces below. Additionally the botanical displays of the interior spaces educate visitors to the region's flora.

Ito's design is composed of three covered areas strung, like irregular pearls on a string, along the side of a pea-shaped lake. A complex series of walkways take people up, over, underneath, and into the three shells, if you will. Each shell is partially covered by glass roofs articulated in a scale-like manner; the rest is covered by vegetation. Portions of the domes cantilever to provide shade and shelter, while also signaling entries and making suitable seating areas.

The interior spaces appear to meander in the same manner as the exterior pathways. This is suitable for what are basically greenhouses, or the compartmentalization of nature by humans. Ito embraces the apparently irregular qualities of nature's ever-evolving presence. These forms allow for a multitude of experiences across his architecture, an important consideration for an island city so close, yet so far removed from the landlocked city.

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