Architects: Molo + d/dt +Frank la Riviere Architects inc
Location: Aomori, Japan
Structure: Kanebako Structural Engineers
MEP: PT Morimura & Associates
Project area: 4,339 sqm
Project year: 2006 – 2010
Photographs: Shigeo Ogawa, Frank La Riviere
In August, Nebuta Festival (origin 8th century) fever descends upon Aomori. Nebuta, created anew each year, take the form of huge (9 x 7 x 5.5 m) paper lantern like floats showing warriors from Japanese and Chinese history and myth in dramatic poses often showing battle scenes. Roughly 20 large Nebuta are paraded through the streets accompanied by drums, bamboo flutes and hordes of revelers in traditional attire, dancing and chanting.
The Nebuta-no-ie Warasse is dedicated to all aspects of the Nebuta festival. Located in front of Aomori train station, there were the city meets the sea, the building was opened on January 5th 2011. As visitors approach, the building and its plaza frame a view of Aomori Bay. A screen of twelve meter tall steel ribbons wraps the whole building and encloses an outdoor walkway, a threshold between the mythical world of Nebuta and the contemporary city. Each ribbon is twisted and bended to form openings for light, views and passageways.
Inside, the Nebuta, luminous creatures, will reside in darkness. Humans enter into a world of giants. Visitors first travel through the history of the Nebuta festival and Aomori city, to arrive at an upper level platform that brings them eye to eye with the real Nebutas. A ramp descends into the Nebuta Hall, a large T-shaped space that recreates the darkness of the city streets by night through the simple choice of black materials: black polished concrete floors, black stucco walls and a black painted ceiling. This materiality is dominant through out the whole building except for the only two white cores that stand out. Each year, five new prize winning Nebuta take up residence in the Nebuta-no-ie Warasse and the cycle of designing and constructing the Nebuta starts all over again.
The Performance Hall (L2) opens to the Nebuta Hall, its huge sliding doors allowing for the Nebuta to become present in performances. Below, the Music Rehearsal Area can be used integrated with the nebuta Hall by opening similar large sliding doors. Both the restaurant (L1) and the multi-purpose space (L2) for community events offer glimpses into the Nebuta Hall as well as views to the sea.