The new Konoha Mall represents a first of its kind lifestyle ‘eco-leisure’ destination that introduces sustainability and eco-design principles into retail to create a compelling sense of place and experience. The project concept is rooted in natural elements and offers a distinct experience for shopping, dining, exploring, reflecting and wandering.
The eco-retailing center, designed by The Jerde Partnership, is the firm’s twelfth project to be developed within the last 15 years in Japan, and is designed as a new community gathering place for the Hashimoto district. Inspired by its natural surroundings and cultural influences of Hashimoto, Konoha Mall is an innovative retail solution that embraces nature and sustainability, along with fundamental retail strategies, into all elements. Made up of 84,000 square meters (approx 900,000 square feet) of retail leisure functions including 120 specialty shops and restaurants, a large community market anchor, and premier food court, the new Jerde Place is expected to draw six million visitors each year with annual sales of approximately 13 billion yen ($150 million USD).
Konoha Mall reinforces the desire to create a holistic transformative design which benefits and supports the local community. Each characteristic of the project carefully addresses the surrounding context with a focus on introducing nature and sustainable value into the buildings and pedestrian spaces.
Developer of the Konoha Mall, Fukuoka Jisho, is one of Japan’s most highly regarded developers and long- time partner of The Jerde Partnership. Other collaborations by Fukuoka Jisho and Jerde include the world-renowned mixed-use Canal City Hakata in Fukuoka, Marinoa City Pier Walk in Fukuoka, Park Place in Oita, and RiverWalk in Kitakyushu, which received a merit award for design from the American Institute of Architects. Fukuoka Jisho commissioned Jerde to design the Konoha Mall in early 2009 to continue the successful collaboration with another landmark development that will deliver memorable experiences for the people of Japan.
Jerde, an award-winning architecture and urban design firm based in Los Angeles, was founded in 1977 to pioneer a singular philosophy that rethinks traditional retail centers as experiential places that host people. The opening of Konoha Mall extends Jerde’s desire to deliver community places in Japan, and the firm’s legacy of creating new models of retail that provide social, cultural and economic value to their cities. Since its first project in Japan, Canal City Hakata which at the time it opened in 1996 was the largest private development in the country, Jerde has continued to revolutionize retail by integrating a full mix of uses, connecting to mass transit hubs, and establishing parks and other open spaces. The firm’s other award-winning projects in Japan include: Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, Namba Parks in Osaka, RiverWalk Kitakyushu, Caretta Shiodome at Dentsu HQ in Tokyo, and La Cittadella in Kawasaki.
Like many of Jerde’s landmark places, the inspiration for design and creating memorable experiences comes from the organic and transformative power of nature. With Konoha Mall, the characteristics of the project merge to fulfill its role as the premier community gathering destination. The concept of the garden walk is the fundamental spine of the overall design – bringing nature and sustainable value into the buildings and pedestrian spaces.
This is accomplished through careful study and understanding of the contextual surroundings of the property. The nearby river park provided a strategic inspiration for the circulation into and through the project. The river and motion of water is referenced through the contouring elevation of the front façade, while its undulating design creates alandmark that can be seen from the elevated city ring road of Fukuoka. The open-air garden walk, the center’s main community square, contains lush landscaping that creates an organic outdoor environment with spaces for exploring, resting and enjoying entertainment.
The garden walk evokes the co-existence of people and nature with an organic natural setting filled with water, trees, flowers, and plants combined with shopping and dining to create a one-of-a-kind pedestrian street similar to those found in the world’s most historic and memorable cities. Additionally, while this key concept originates at the garden walk – one of the primary entries to the project – the careful blending of nature and modern design carries through the center with a varietal of retail offerings and comfortable, intimate spaces highlighted by soft tones and materials.
Inspired by a nearby shrine containing beautiful trees with leaves floating up all around, the leaf became a major symbol for the project as prominently portrayed in the iconic leaf-shaped trellises lining the upper levels. Konoha Mall encourages communal interaction, while establishing a new type of retail center where ecology and sustainability are the driving forces behind the experience. Multi-level walkways and bridges across levels allow spectators to view activity below, including events and performances within the grand public spaces. The upper levels, including a rooftop garden space, are set underneath the iconic leaf trellis structures to provide additional shade and a tranquil atmosphere.
From the colors, textures and spatial quality of the exteriors and interiors, the entire project is rooted in natural elements and offers a distinct experience for shopping, dining, exploring and wandering. Within the interior, the project is organized around three major courts that represent elements of the various seasons, with the large Summer-inspired CenterCourt as the main public plaza where community events and attractions are held, and the Cherry (Spring) and Maple (Autumn) courts serving as anchors on opposite ends of the center.
Each court is distinct yet complements the overall composition and refined natural experience of the place. The largest indoor Center Court serves as the community events plaza during cooler months, and is designed as a festive area with a large skylight to brighten the space, complemented with a pattern of green, teak and soft white on each level that spirals up towards the sky.
Konoha Mall establishes careful connections through its circulation, colors, materials and public spaces to ensure it delivers on the expectations of the local residents and visitors and the local government’s mandate that the center be highly visible from the main ring road of Fukuoka. As part of its co-creative and cohesive approach to design, Jerde also created the conceptual landscape, lighting and signage to form a distinct and comprehensive identity for the project. Fukuoka Jisho’s in-house urban design group (FJUD) served as the executive architect.
Working in Japan for nearly two decades allows Jerde to understand the culture and focus on the needs and desires of its people. However, for a retail project to be truly successful the design must acknowledge, accommodate and encourage the activity of shopping and incorporate social and leisure elements. The goal for Konoha is to create a desirable destination that people will see as their community hub and return to time and again, while carefully fitting into its surroundings as an authentic place of the region.