Architect In Charge: Ben van Berkel
Design Team: Gerard Loozekoot, Frans van Vuure, Filippo Lodi, Harlen Miller, Jan Kokol, Wendy van der Knijff, Todd Ebeltoft, Tina Kortmann, Patrik Noome, Jeroen den Hertog, Iain Jamieson
Client: Ferris wheel Investment Co.,Ltd
Structural Engineer: Arup Tokyo + Melbourne, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
Interactive Design: Experientia
Building Surface: Terminal and platform 7.200 m2
Building Volume: Terminal and platform 90.000m3
Building Site: 18.000m2
Area: 0.0 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of UNStudio
Consider a social-networking experience that combines real-time amusement with an awareness of your surroundings. Dutch architecture firm, UNStudio, together with Ferris Wheel Investment of Japan, have laid out a colossal vision that expects to attract millions of visitors to a mixed-use retail, food and beverage center anchored by an architecturally-iconicobservation wheel, Nippon Moon. The concept utilizes a user’s smart phone or tablet, extending the rider’s experience far beyond the moment they physically enter one of the 32 single or double-decker capsules.
A user’s device becomes a portal to a network that notifies them of waiting times – essentially doing away with long, exhaustive lines – and enables users, who are otherwise visually or physically separate, to communicate from one capsule to another. The intent is to encourage active participation in one’s own experience of culture, the environment and self.
The pill-shaped capsules completely enclose the users, displaying digitally altered views upon its transparent glass shell thereby mediating between the real and the virtual. To fully understand behavioral trends and user-experiences, UNStudio has teamed up with Experientia, an Italian-based design company, to develop a coherent strategy for the proposed augmented visuals. Considerably evolved from traditional ferris wheel carts, the capsules are large enough to accommodate roughly a dozen people meandering on its floors for the duration of the ride. Arup and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, specialized wheel engineers, have joined the design team to consult on structural constraints.
This romanticism, claims UNStudio, is an integral part of the vision to ensure that the design and engineering of the wheel represents the ambitions of modern Japan. “The concept of the observation wheel itself is not new,” they admit. However, by exploring the relationship between robust engineering and emerging technologies, we can develop a uniquely-Japanese cultural attraction.