National Government Buildings

Saitama, Japan 1999

Commissioner Ministry of Construction

Architect Koichi Moto, Nikken Sekkei

Art Coordinator Environmental Planning Laboratory, Inc.

Consultant ALS Environmental Design Institute, Inc.

Budget $ 500,000

Tsukuyomi - an ancient Japanese word for moon-night-viewing, and moon-reading.

phosphorescent phosphor, granite, concrete, lighting, mist fountain

An experiment in light, the design of Tsukuyomi plaza combines a mist fountain with phosphorescent pavement images of a lunar calendar. The primary idea of the project was to question basic perceptions of time and space in the contemporary urban world and this is accomplished, in part, by the juxtaposition of ancient ritual and cutting edge material technologies.

For many ancient civilizations, the moon was an important factor in the measurement of time. In the 7th century water, in addition to the moon, became a means to measure time in Japan. One of the ancient customs that still remains in the Japanese calendar is a day to observe the moon. However, contemporary urban Japanese, who look only at their wristwatches, seem to have forgotten how to "experience " time as they would in this ritual.

The central design mimics, visually, the 28 cycles of the moon in the month of the year 2000 when the government plaza will be opened to the public. The moon-image paving is composed of a combination of phosphorescent (glow-in-the dark) phosphor and granite developed and manufactured specifically for this project.

At certain times of day, the fountain slowly mists over moon cycle paving. As dusk approaches, the plaza becomes a magic carpet, blue light glowing from within each moon, and luminescence rising from the mist fountain.

The moon is not a fixed star that shines by itself but a reflector reflecting sunlight. Consequently, I envision this moonscape as a metaphoric mirror for the plaza environment, where as many as 50,000 people may flow through daily.

Nobuho Nagasawa, 555 High St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Ph (831) 466-9912 Fax (831) 466-5555 e-mail nobi@cats.ucsc.edu