If you ever travel to the island of Awaji in Japan, you will find a complex of buildings known as Awaji Yumebutai, which were designed by architect Tadao Ando. You’ll also find a memorial garden like no other.
The complex was designed in the mid-1990s and was going to be built on the remains of a soil excavation site. When an earthquake rocked the island in 1995, killing more than 6,000 people, Ando revised his plans and added a unique memorial garden called Hyakudanen or “the 100 Stepped Garden.”
The 100 Stepped Garden has a geometric design that flows with the gradient of the mountain terrain and contains 100 square flower beds. The beds are changed for each season, so vividly colored plants are always growing there, despite the weather.
Ando created the garden as “a symbol to calm the souls of those who lost their lives in the disaster.”
The garden includes a maze of stairs that are either seven or 14 steps between landings. There are a total of 1,575 steps and 235 flights at Hyakudanen. Ando also added a 32-foot-wide cascade of water beside the standard stairs.
Visitors can take a free-standing elevator to the top of the first square of flower beds to reach a viewing platform that offers a 360-degree perspective of the Yumebutai complex.
The rest of the complex is also integrated with nature, including an amphitheater, indoor and outdoor gardens, tea ceremony building, hotel and plazas. Each building has a distinct shape and water features incorporated into it.
For more information about Tadao Ando, visit the page devoted to him at artsy.net.