The Okinawa Islands are historically and geographically distinct from the rest of Japan; they were ruled by the Ryukyu Kingdom from the 15th to the 19th centuries, and they were occupied by American troops from the end of World War I until 1972. When a new city hall was to be erected in Nago, a large urban region to the north of Okinawa’s main island, a design competition was launched to address concerns such “What is Okinawan architecture?” and “What should a city hall look like?”
The winning proposal, completed in 1981, features city offices encircled by pergolas and terraces, creating welcoming, shaded places for residents. These “asagi terraces” are based on the theme of kami asagi, walI-less, hutlike enclosures used in Okinawa for summoning spirits and performing rites since the Ryukyu Kingdom era.
Shisa (traditional Ryukyuan lion-dog images) and flower-patterned concrete blocks are also included in the structure—popular rather than official motifs meant to boost people’s familiarity with the structure. The designers, Atelier Zo, went on to create the Yilan County Hal in Yilan, Taiwan (1997), as well as other works that emphasize regional identity rather than national identity.
Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Minato, Nago, Okinawa 905-0014, Japan
Phone: +81 980-53-1212