Awaji Yumebutai is a complex of buildings consisting of a conference center, a hotel and a memorial in the city of Awaji located in an island of the same name in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. The complex was designed by architect Tadao Ando and built on the side of a mountain from which soil had been taken away in the early 1990s to cater to huge landfill development in the Osaka Bay area, including the building of the Kansai International Airport.
Tadao Ando convinced the authorities to purchase the surrounding land and turn it into a park. He wanted to turn the natural environment which was once destroyed by expansion activities into a new place where people could gather and interact. But before the park could be completed, a violent earthquake shook Awaji island in 1995 and the region around Kobe claiming the lives of more than 6,000 people. This forced the architect the revise his construction plans and converted Awaji Yumebutai into a memorial instead. The project now includes a hotel, a conference center, a small amphitheater and restaurants, and plazas.
The 100 Stepped Garden at Awaji Yumebutai is the complex’s most distinctive feature. Photo credit
One of the most striking features in the complex is the Hyakudanen or “the 100 Stepped Garden” — a group of 100 flower beds in small square gardens on an incline behind the hotel and arranged in grids spread over several levels. There are exactly 100 square gardens that are decorated with flowers throughout each of the 4 seasons serving as "a symbol to calm the souls of those who lost their lives in the disaster".
Flights of stairs run all through the grid so that it’s possible to visit each of the one hundred flower beds. The garden lies at the highest point of the Yumebutai complex and is linked to the other parts of the project by a 10 meters wide step-cascade of continuously flowing water, flanked by stairs that follow the same arrangement and incline. A free-standing elevator takes visitors to the top of the first large square of flower beds where there is a spectacular viewing platform from where one can have a 360-degree view of the entire Yumebutai complex.
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