Possibly the best place in the world to be delayed for a train, the CoFuFun station plaza at Tenri Station in Japan, designed by Nendo, is an upbeat urban intervention and a new community hub for Tenri City in Nara prefecture. Designed like an over-sized crazy golf range, CoFuFun has a great sense of humour, yet also gets the job done.
The 6000 sq m plaza features a series of white circular structures, that serve as multi-functional pavilions hosting a café, shops, information kiosk, bike rental, a play area, an outdoor stage and a meeting area.
The orbiting concrete forms are also historically informed, referencing ancient Japanese burial structures 'cofun,' common to Nara which can be found dotted around the mountainous area surrounding the city.
A view of the plaza landscaping. Photography: Takumi Ota
While playful, these contemporary interpretations of cofun are very conductive to public space, with the stepped layers welcoming all manner of purposes from seating, to steps, to roofs, to shelves for products in shops, fences, or simply delightful sculptural forms for weaving around on your commute.
Instead of a gateway, this new station plaza is a destination in itself. It takes on board its tasks, to provide space for people to wait, meet or waste time, yet activates its potential to bring people together and revitalize the community.
Nendo couldn’t resist a bit of word play when naming the project, which we can relate to at W*. Blending Japanese lexicon with international appeal, ‘CoFuFun’ refers to the ancient cofun, as well as the Japanese word funfun, which translates as ‘a happy, unconscious humming’. ‘co’ brings in ideas of ‘co’-operation and ‘co’-mmunity and well, hopefully we all know how to have a bit of ‘fun’.