The Yokohama Ferry Terminal was designed by Foreign Office Architecture in 2007. I think a good project also starts from a good brief and if the brief is not good enough it is the architect’s duty to improve it. In this case the brief included an unusual mixture of functions: a passenger cruise terminal but also civic activities that should be open to all the citizens. FOA worked very well with this brief, today the terminal is primarily known as the “piazza on the sea” a wonderful public space perfect for a stroll and for viewing the city.
The ferry becomes the public space and its roof the playground. There is an energetic combination between the belly of the whale (the indoor space of the ferry) and the skin (the outdoor space). I felt a sense of pride being on top of it: Massimo as a whale rider! It made me smile. I remember to have had two occasional conversations while strolling on the roof and both started with: this is a wonderful space isn’t it? It is grand indeed I replied, the view is fantastic, the scale immense, and the wooden deck transports you elsewhere perhaps on a ship ready to sail.
People are taking places for this trip: some are seated on the numerous benches, some directly on the ground, some are walking, there is a space for everyone and we feel all ready to depart to adventure land, what a wonderful way to spend a late Sunday afternoon. If architecture is the art of evoking emotions then FOA got it very right.