Yoshio Nakamura - Projects

Otagawa River Embankment

The embankment along the Otagawa River
The embankment along the Otagawa River

The Otagawa River flows in five branches in the city of Hiroshima. In early 1970s, when the river management bureau intended to launch an embankment improvement plan, discussions arose among citizens on environmental concerns. Nakamura was then asked in 1976 to conduct a two-year sociological study of citizens' attitude to the river. Following the findings, the Otagawa River bureau gave up its original plan of concrete walled bank protection, and commissioned Nakamura's team for a new design pattern that would incorporate both cultural and environmental aspects. The new design divides the embankment into three zones, each with a different section that supports its particular landscape: zone A (1979/10–1983/10), zone B (1989/10–1982/03) and zone C (1985/10–1997/06). Traditional jetties, existing park and waterfront terraces are integrated into the infrastructural embankment of flood control. As a result, local people return to the waterfront for meditation and recreation. The river is thus brought back to life through the innovative engineering, as well as civic/festival activities that it stimulates. In 2004, the project was awarded the Design Grand Prix by JSCE (Japan Society of civil Engineers).

The Park of Koga

View towards the pond and bridge in the Park of Koga
View towards the pond and bridge in the Park of Koga

When the park was awarded UNESCO's 2003 "Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes", it has gone through a long development of 30 years, through at least four different mayors. In retrospect, the designer asks [since] people's activities are now considered as critical actions to generate meanings of space, couldn't it also be called design? The project was first launched in 1972 in the hope to create a recreational "historic park" on an ancient site through restoration and conservation. The construction was ceased during the tenure of a second mayor and then revitalized in 1988 when the new mayor called Dr. Nakamura to organize a public involved committee to revise the Master Plan. The character of the park was redefined-"historic park" was reinterpreted as "evolution of landscapes" and the importance of social activities was stressed. Since then the park project survived local politics and bureaucracy, but nevertheless kept on its goal as the future civic center of the community. Landscape designs were introduced carefully in a minimal and functional manner. While architectural designs were required to incorporate the bi-polar ambiguity of such concepts as natural / artificial, and contemporary / traditional. At Koga, the complexity of the relations between nature, the natural environment and man-relations that are at the foundations of the very notion of cultural landscape-have been carefully thought through and presented through the "Eight Scenes of the Universe Garden". More importantly, the continuity of a living cultural landscape is safeguarded and maintained by a citizen involved management system lead by the park master through traditional and invented activities such as festivals, place naming and poem/photograph contests…

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