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    Yokohama Anecdotes

    By Arjun Bhat
    Oct 8, '07 1:55 PM EST

    So I'm doing a comparative study for my Ideal Forms class comparing the Government complex at Chandigarh to FOA's Yokohama International Ferry Terminal, and was hoping to get some people's first hand impressions of it, having never been there myself. Have any of you Archinecters been there? If so, what was your impression of it? Was it a popular place (besides for tourists and architecture students)? Would you say it was a successful public space?

    We're only supposed to analyze the project on its idealized vision (its more of a comparative study between the intent behind the proposals, not so much of their relative success or failure), but I'd like to know nonetheless.


    • i loved the place. when i went it was covered with people sunbathing on the roof, much like when i went to visit the roof of the milan cathedral...beautiful.

      as far as i know it is not used overly much for its intended purpose...i have never been there when a boat comes in and sort of wonder if it is really used much at was after all shelved for quite some time as not necessary and only went forward after japan and korea won bid to host th world cup.

      by chance i have spoken to 2 of the engineers who worked on it and they were both impressed with the architects. they also put to rest for me the idea that it was arup who came up with the structural design concept rather than alejandro and friends (arup sued when foa went with another engineering firm after construction wen forth). apprently foa is a very smart team.

      as a public place i don't know really. certainly it works well enough, but the entire strip along minato mirai is of such a scale that i found it a bit daunting as anything other than a destination. which is to say it doesn't work as part of the urban fabric, but more of a separate piece within it. That is not foa's decision though, as they did not do the masterplan.

      compring to chandigarh is in that sense problematic. one building with a single connection to the land (it is a dock after all) compared with an entire urban development that is intertwined with its location....on planning level how to compare may be hard.

      as a building i found the roof fantastic, the interior overwhelmingly empty, and the lack of straight walls has led to some odd adaptations for things like drink machines (i can send you pictures if you e-mail me). the detailing of the building per se and not the adhoc adaptations are however very very nice.

      Oct 8, 07 8:11 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      thanks jump, i had a feeling that it was more of a destination then an actual bustling travel facility. I've spoken with some other people at MIT about their experiences there and they're along the same lines.

      the comparison with Chandigarh's governmental complex has a lot more in common than you'd think - our task is to compare the intent more than the actualized form, so for the time being, we get to ignore the settlement that has occurred north of the governmental complex (the "head" of the city" which our investigation is focusing on).

      a few for example ....

      both are external public "centers" (challenging the assumption of centrality as being necessary to civic centers)
      both manipulate the material qualities of the constructed hardscape for different functional/symbolic purposes
      both utilize sectional qualities to create "ceremonial" flows of movement.

      now i know they both have had varying degrees of success/failure, but the idea is to trace the lineage of certain ideas about "publicness" and how those ideas have contributed to contemporary urban architecture.

      Oct 8, 07 10:38 pm  · 

      sounds good arjun.

      some of the similarities are for me not so convincing, from an academic stand-point...

      biggest one for me is that the enlarged boathouse that the ferry terminal essentially is, is not what i would call a civic center. it is a transportation terminal building, that happens to have a park (gratuitously?) on its roof. conceptually it is perhaps more akin to stuttgart station (by ingenhoeven) than chandigarh. more, its isolation from the urban fabric makes it even less civic than a train station might be comparing might be a bit hard...

      good chance i am way off though, and should be interesting regardless...have fun.

      some casual shots. just cuz...

      Oct 9, 07 6:23 am  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      hey thanks - goes to show how intent and result can be two very different things ....

      have you seen the book on this project (published by Verb)? The competition renderings/ program diagrams almost treat the project as a community social condenser (even if it happens to be, in the end, just an empty ferry terminal with a rolling roof).

      I like the photo of the coke machine - its a nice interface with the wall. :D

      Oct 9, 07 8:37 am  · 

      the project is closer to being a "community social condenser" than it is to being a ferry terminal.

      for the competition, the project was more focused on the organisational structure of the 'international' ferry terminal as a transportation field - closer to an international airport in terms of customs, security and immigration separations, with a bit of social/civic infrastructure on the roof and far end. these social/public gestures were there as adjuncts to the imagined events of arrival, greetings and departures for ferry passengers and their greeters/friends.

      as mentioned previously, given the lack of ferry business, the building's success has been the degree to which it could shift focus and therefore validation as something not solely dependent on its original brief. that FOA added the significantly to the programming of the public, social spaces is a credit to their insight into the opportunity to expand the options and longer term intent of the project.

      the fact that building is a long pier, does mean that it suffers from not having as much engagement with the local context as one would perhaps like.

      Oct 9, 07 11:25 am  · 

      that is a good point dlb. had they built an anonymous box the lack of traffic (if that impression is correct) would have made the place dead and defunct by default. with the building as it is the possibility of recreation is added to possibilities and is taken advantage that sense, a succesful design...maybe if "civic" is considered from that perspective...could be social condensor is least a little.

      Oct 9, 07 6:37 pm  · 

      I was there in spring. It's gorgeous. There is an interesting gesture to the Zen gardens made at the Port. Frequently you will see wood > tile > gravel (water) transition in the gardens. At the FOA Port Terminal, you see the same gesture, but it is wood > tile > (actual) water. It's quite elegant. I'll post some pictures when i get home as i don't think i have them on this computer.

      The whole site was very spacious. I didn't get a chance to see anybody boarding onto large ships, so in a sense i didn't get to see it "in action."

      Oct 16, 07 2:21 pm  · 

      Here is a link to a mediocre photomerge that you are welcome to use. non-l33t photoshop document

      Oct 16, 07 2:26 pm  · 
      Arjun Bhat

      thanks! I turned in the project last Wednesday, the presentation went well and generated some great discussion, but thanks for the photomerge all the same.

      Oct 16, 07 4:40 pm  · 

      Haha. Whoops. I should probably pay attention to the dates on these posts. *shakes head*

      Oct 16, 07 4:43 pm  · 

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