Nara Mats

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Nara Bridges
nara wedge
information floor
nara mats
nara information mat
sketch by Kim JongKyu
long section
aerial photo

Nara Mats, International Design Competition, Nara, Japan, 1991

Florian Beigel + ARU, Kim JongKyu

(awarded 6th place in the open first stage of over 600 entries)

The urban design is inspired by the land space of mats of the Nara Basin. Three sloping public open surfaces are proposed as urban mats linking east to west in Nara. They facilitate easy public passage gently rising over the two large dividers in the city, the railway and a large proposed new road.

The competition site forms the third and largest sloping urban stepping stone. It is conceived as a large public illuminated media floor of graduated densities, an information facade laid on the ground on which one can walk. One could say that the building is a kind of public mat on which the life of the city is acted out. This tilted ground plane is a large communication screen with banded media ranging from billboards to coloured moving images, giving information about the events in the convention halls, events in the city and the world. If the stained glass windows of Chartres Cathedral were illuminated religious stories for the Medieval age, this is perhaps a modern version of such a public media display for our time.

The idea is to give this piece of the city floor the architectural powers to generate direct and indirect communication between people. It is a new public meeting place where people of Nara meet each other and people from other parts of the world. An assortment of various sized public halls are arranged on this open public floor. The halls are covered with a long-span gravity stabilised hanging roof structure. The interiors of the halls have an exterior character, generating a sense of ease and informality and a feeling of openness.

Selected Publications

a+t, architecture and technology
(Spain), 'architecture is like a road', by Philip Christou, No. 13, 1999, p.14-43.
Space Arts & Architecture: Environment
(Korea), 'Nara Convention Hall' issue no. 341, 03.96, p.40-41.
Korean Architects
special issue on Florian Beigel, 5.96, issue no. 141, p.142-147.
Nara Convention Hall International Design Competition 1992
Edited by Kisho Kurokawa. A comprehensive document including the top ten entries, and special awards. Published by The City of Nara / (Foundation) Association for the World Architecture Exposition 1998, Nara.