We are now interested in how we can create a good field, an “incomplete” product that can be used in various ways. If possible, we would also like to pursue a high level of perfection as a product, or the “good amusement park” quality.
Client: Maruhiro inc.
Location: Hasami town, Nagasaki
Usage: Park, Retail, Cafe
Architects: DDAA / SOUP DESIGN Architecture
Project Team: Daisuke Motogi / Riku Murai (DDAA) / Nobuaki Doi (SOUP DESIGN Architecture)
Structure Design: yasuhirokaneda STRUCTURE
Construction: KAMIYAMA ,Saikai Engei Co.,Ltd.
Total site area: 3947.99m²
Total floor area: 2727.96m² (Park) 288m² (Retail and Café)
Date of completion: August / 2021
Photo: Kenta Hasegawa
If it becomes a mere “field,” users, it will lack a sense of wholeness, with users just playing around separately. We need some kind of intent to design the quality of the experience. A good amusement park should serve as a role model for those guided by the possibility of involvement in the “field.” However, this should not hinder freedom, which is the best advantage of the “field.” Finding the right balance between the two will be a major challenge for the future.
With such thoughts in mind, we worked on a project called “HIROPPA,” a comprehensive plan for a mixed-use facility consisting of a plaza, store, and cafe. HIROPPA is a facility occupying approximately 4,000㎡ founded by Maruhiro, a company that designs and produces porcelain in Hasami-cho, Nagasaki Prefecture. The client’s request was to create a place where local residents and children, as well as pottery fans visiting from outside the prefecture, could gather and mingle spontaneously, thereby generating a lively atmosphere. It was those at Maruhiro who gave it the best name, “HIROPPA,” which was coined by combining “hiroba” (open space) and “harappa” (field), and seems to fit this space perfectly. I remember feeling that we really wanted to design this facility based on the very idea of a “field.”
Yet, we were not ready to design it as a “field” from the beginning, and we made detours, doing a lot of studies in different directions. At first, we made a mistake of trying to create a “park and play equipment” instead of a “field.”
So, what is wrong with a park and play equipment? As has been criticized a great deal already, most parks today post a number of signs with warnings and instructions. Some parks ban almost all activities, to the point where we wonder if it is some kind of conceptual art. In addition, various restrictions are imposed on play equipment installed in parks, and every time an accident occurs, new safety standards are established in the industry. Play equipment that is deemed dangerous is removed and will not be used anymore in new parks and open spaces. In this safety standard, play equipment is classified by category: swings are classified as “swinging play equipment,” and seesaws as ” up-and-down motion play equipment.” Specific restrictions are also set for each category, including fence specifications, hardware to be used and so on. If the rules for how to play with play equipment are determined first, play becomes a mere formality that is standardized. For this reason, we tried to avoid the negative aspects of the “amusement park” approach, and instead experimented with a new form of play equipment. But in the end, we had to settle on conventional play equipment to meet safety standards.
So, we decided to stop thinking about making new play equipment, and reconsidered the situation in the most fundamental way possible. For example, if we wanted to build a slide, we would begin with the essential and fundamental concept or observation that “sliding is fun.” Then, we would think about how we can recreate the experience of “sliding” in some other situation. Play was meant to be an act created through the discovery of fun without any purpose, not an act prescribed by the form of play equipment.
What we designed in the end was a “ground” itself rather than play equipment. We provided “triggers” on the ground for people to sit on, or slide on. A slope was created by heaping up soil, and a pergola (a trellis with vines to provide shade) was placed on top of it. At the bottom of the slope, a beach where people can play in the sand was created by spreading finely crushed sand from discarded porcelain. A pond can be created by filling it with shallow water, and in summer, it can be filled to the brim and used for bathing.
The idea of “manipulating the ground” was conceived partly because the production cost of play equipment was unexpectedly high, and it was much more economical to simply move the soil, but also because we wanted to create a more primitive “open space” than a “park with play equipment.” By providing a variety of unique features to the topography, we wanted to give the open space a “field” quality that can be interpreted in various ways.
Also, it is designed in such a way that when viewed from a distance, it reveals an unusual landscape with unnaturally straight ridgelines, a slope with gradually changing functions, and a bright red triangular hole that can be used as a bench, all of which could not be seen in nature. This part was designed with the idea of an “amusement park” in mind. HIROPPA itself is not yet complete. It is an ongoing project, and there are plans to add various uses and facilities in the future. The completion of the construction does not make it complete, but rather, it is designed to accommodate changes through expansion and renovation. This is greatly influenced by Aalto’s idea of decentralized standardization, and we can say that “HIROPPA” is a project that contains everything we have discussed so far.
We hope to find a way to harmonize an “amusement park” and a “field” in future projects as well. In other words, we do not want to create either platforms or content, but both. We want to create a state in which everyone is spending time as they please and yet a sense of wholeness is not lost, and a state in which a high quality is ensured and yet the possibility of involvement is maintained. In short, we want to achieve a state like Stool 60.