ACROS Fukuoka: An untraditional park in the heart of a bustling Japanese city

clip_image002Rising up from the grounds of Tenjin Central Park is one of the largest green buildings in the world. The ACROS Fukuoka Prefectural International Hall provides a grand mixed-use space for concerts and events but avoids displacing any of the green space of the park through its innovative terraced design. The building seems as though it’s tucked right underneath the top layer of soil and is completely covered in lush greenery all the way up to its roof. ACROS stands for Asian Crossroads Over the Sea and is a breathtaking feat of architecture built in harmony with the nature around it.

Preserving the natural landscape104986525.YkFdDhwa.Buildingcopy

Architect Emilio Ambasz is the mastermind behind this stunning development. He was tasked with the challenge to create a new commercial building for the city of Fukuoka, Japan while preserving what little green space the city had left. The city wanted a commercially profitable building while Ambasz strived to maintain a natural recreational area for the public.

“I see my task as an architect as that of reconciling our man-made Nature with the organic one we have been given,” Ambasz said of the project.

A place to walk and reflect

clip_image006The gardens of ACROS Fukuoka are divided into 13 levels with widths between 120 to 98 meters. It boasts 76 varieties of 37,000 short trees planted ranging in height from 1.7 to 1.9 meters. Each miniature park was designed to exude a sense of tranquility and beauty. Some even contain small ponds. And if you decide to make it all the way to the very top terrace, you will find reward in a panoramic view of the city and nearby Fukuoka Bay. It’s a great sight to take in at the end of a long workday when you want to see the city lit up.

Sleek inside and out

clip_image008The building itself takes on a more modern design. The side and front walls of the building are layered in clean horizontally running lines of glass. The elegant façade is an appropriate entrance to a building located on the largest street in Fukuoka’s financial district. Inside, the same clean and modernist theme is applied to its main hall built from crisscrossing panels of glass and steel.

A case for building green

clip_image010Environmentalists cheer the building’s design as a shining example of the use of green roof technology. A study conducted in 2000 confirmed the green roof reduced temperatures in the direct area and helped alleviate the urban heat island phenomenon. Its existence also promotes the biodiversity of local species of birds and insects.

Fukuoka the city

clip_image012Fukuoka is itself a cosmopolitan port city that welcomes visitors from all over the world. It’s a popular stop for tourists from China and Korea and shopping malls and streets catering to visitors are easy to find.

Once a long time ago, Fukuoka started off as two separate cities of Fukuoka and Hakata. They were merged into one in 1889 and took the name Fukuoka. For visitors looking for a taste of traditional Japanese culture, the city contains plenty of traditional temples that hark back to Japan’s feudal times. But the real draw is its options for food and nightlife. A trip to this bustling city is never complete without a late-night bowl of Hakata ramen from one of the many street stalls along the river.