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From parking lot to public realm: a transformation of the consumer experience

Oyama Yuen Harvest Walk

landscape architecture, architecture, design
TYPE
PUBLIC REALM
SCALE
100,000SF
Location
Oyama-shi, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan

On the former site of Oyama Yuenchi, a well-known amusement park, Oyama Yuen Harvest Walk is a shopping center located 100km North of Tokyo in the Tochigi Prefecture of Japan. The property is located 2.5 kilometers northwest of the JR Oyama Station, a 40-minute high-speed train ride from Tokyo Station on the JR Tohoku Shinkansen. Originally constructed in 2007, 2 years after the [partial] demolition of Oyama Yuenchi, the site gradually evolved into a shopping destination, with a capacity for over 2,000 vehicles. The shopping complex consists of two distinct zones: a cluster of large roadside stores around the perimeter of the property, and a collection of smaller retail stores in the center.

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The preexisting conditions did not provide for an active interchange of consumers between the two zones, with few consumers entering the small-retail zone due to difficult walking conditions and a lack of accessible pedestrian circulation. The newly renovated project transforms large portions of the original vehicular landscape into an active and vibrant public realm, with a concept of: “shopping in the park.” The revitalization of the shopping complex strengthens the natural and

social environment, from parking lot to public realm, resulting in a destination designed to enhance the consumer experience. At its heart, Merry-Go-Round Town generates visual and audible excitement through an artifact of the former site, surrounded by rich planting palettes and site furnishings that evoke a sense of play and delight. At night, the illuminations are reminiscent of the sparkling liveliness of the amusement park.

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The Harvest and Rambling Walks serve as wayfinding landscapes, designed to direct pedestrian traffic across thoroughfares that frame views within the shopping complex. While the Sakura Plaza offers a moment of pause, the Water Plaza is a constant source of energy for both children and adults, where a topography of striated blue mountains provides the backdrop for a waterscape that transitions seasonally from a splash pad in summer to a skating rink in winter.

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An undulating “river” of plantings weaves the Harvest Plaza and Forest Garden, encouraging interaction with the environment. Within the Forest Garden’s grove of trees, a pavilion canopy defines seven multi-function outdoor rooms that accommodate programmed and impromptu gatherings. The design’s playful color palettes create a complementary backdrop for the storefronts, encouraging exploration and discovery in the park.

The design does not compete with its context, rather it provides a landscape to guide circulation, support activity, and enhance the shopping experience, with human-scaled interaction. Collectively these spaces refresh the memory of the former site, inviting the local community back to relive the sense of amusement as a new destination in Oyama.

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The immersive environment of the Oyama Yuen Harvest Walk provides a new standard for the consumer experience with an emphasis on a lifestyle environment.

No longer is the shopping experience defined by the proximity of one’s car to the storefront, but rather by the experience one has from the moment they arrive on site. Transforming the site’s vehicular hardscape into an open space for public use, the shopping center is now more environmentally and socially aware, promoting active engagement and wellness through the introduction of a landscape network that promotes pedestrian activity, and invites the local community back to relive the amusement of the former site as a new destination in Oyama.

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