OSAKA 2199 - A MOUNTAIN IN THE URBAN FOREST

Project Team: Alexandre Vicente, Pierre Hatson

Shinsekai, the “New World” is one of the oldest areas in Osaka and also one of the poorest areas in Japan. Despite the low development that followed the second world war, this area as become one of the main tourism areas in the city. As of now it is located adjacently to Shinsaibashi and to Tennoji, were the highest and densest tower in Japan stands. Nonetheless, Shinsekai is characterized by its low rise buildings and cheap housing construction with only two structures that serve as a site landmark, one being the Tsutenkaku tower and another the closed Festival-Gate. As one of the poorest and cheapest areas in Osaka, we believe that in the near future, with the economic growth, inflation and also rise in living conditions and daily cost of the Japanese economy, more and more people will seek new areas to build not only their houses but also theirs lives. Shinsekai would be one of those areas, with its cheap land costs, rent and variety of Asian and western culture. The town Shinsekai, has also many structure barriers like the Tennoji Zoo and highways and train tracks. Coincidently this determines the area with one square kilometer.

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We propose to design a multiphase project which here we will only show the final result. In japan, 73% of its land is mountain, which 68.55% is covered by forest which was planted by man. Nonetheless, 90.7% of Japan population lives in cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The concept of this projects starts with the desire to bring again nature to the people living in the city, through the creation of an artificial wooden mountain. This mountain would not only house human population but also different fauna. It is our desire to create a biotope, a system which humans and nature can co-exist, promoting a healthy and natural environment much inspired by permaculture concepts. 

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The project starts with the construction of 5 towers, these towers we called them of “Cores” which are built on volumes that serve not only as foundations but also as the main hub or interface that connects the hyper dense structure to the rest of the city. The program of this newly structures are Hybrid in its essence. We believe high rise to be a strong and necessary evolution of cities, allowing for more people per square meter, cut energy costs and being more energy efficient and finally allowing to more program and functions to be placed more nearby to people’s houses. Commercial adjacent places like the underground passage Namba Walk are seamlessly connected to the underground commercial district of the towers.

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We thought about density not only at the human scale, but at a natural scale. In answer to that, we propose a wood mountain in the middle of the city, this idea of a mountain as a element of mass and density which is subverted when represented as a elegant wood structure. With this project we plan a self sufficient city, with its own systems of transportation, shops, amenities, public spaces and a 600% ratio of green vegetation over the years. 

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This mountain allows people to live in, the architecture grows, its natural and green, connecting humans again with nature through the scale of natural elements and the scale of a city itself. For this system to work, we propose 3 different sizes of wooden structure, each serving a different function. The main structure which composes the shape, is made of wooden beams and columns with a width of 2,400 x 2,400 millimeters. The second one, smaller with 600 x 600 millimeters width, supports the platforms which the modules can be built. And finally the third structure creates the sizes used by these modules.

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Instead of being an horizontal city, the spaces created give a feeling of tri-dimensional situations, which allows for total freedom in regards to movement and circulation of people. in this particular case, the main void of a “district” works as vertical connection but also allowing light to come through. Nature and vegetation grows in the walls and top of the volumes providing with small gardens, or even food.

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in the interior, light baths the space like rain through the leaves of the tree. People live their lives and enjoy multiple spatial situations and programs. In the end the tower works as a city, a natural city in the sky. apartments and other functions co-exist in harmony, the circulation is fluid with many resting locations provided of greenery and scenery

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in the bottom of each tower, a tree serves as landmark and a monument to nature and humankind, a return to a mutual understanding between man and the natural world.

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