following the devastating earthquake in april 2016 that struck the japanese city of kumamoto, located on the island of kyushu, the historic kumamoto castle was heavily damaged. its old stone walls, designated with special distinction because of their ancient value, were left in significant disrepair. with restoration work on the castle intending to last for about 20 years, the renovation plan is not to close kumamoto castle, a symbol of the town, but to create a structure that allows visitors witness the restoration process as it happens.


for its work on kumamoto castle’s reconstruction observation path, japanese architecture firm NIHON SEKKEI has won the GOOD DESIGN award 2020 good focus award in the category of construction/space design for a public facility — an honor which recognizes outstanding design works for the prevention of, and recovery from, natural disaster.

GOOD DESIGN award 2020



‘kumamoto castle suffered immense damage in the kumamoto earthquake and the restoration work is expected to take about 20 years,’ the GOOD DESIGN award 2020 jury evaluation states. ‘the decision was taken to open up the restoration process to public view and, in response, this design for a temporary aerial walkway was devised to create a route for viewing the construction work. there is a tendency for many designs for temporary pathways to be rather crude, aiming for low cost above all else, with the result that they spoil the spot being viewed. in other cases, they spoil the view with an over-elaborate design that stands out more than the attraction itself. unfortunately, most temporary projects seem to end up in one or the other of these categories.’

GOOD DESIGN award 2020



NIHON SEKKEI has devised an elevated pedestrian corridor to be in place for the 20-year-long period of kumamoto castle’s reconstruction, upon which visitors can witness the site’s ongoing restoration. the project opens up this careful and highly-considered work to the public, and enables them to see the restoration process of the cultural property in person. this architectural effort demonstrates not only a new direction in restoration work as a tourist attraction, but also presents a new approach to how new buildings can simultaneously co-exist with heritage.

GOOD DESIGN award 2020



the history of the site and its prehistoric condition presented NIHON SEKKEI with a variety of architectural challenges. ruins both above and below ground prohibit excavation or the removal of tree roots. piling is also forbidden, so the foundation was designed as a concrete footing on the existing terrain. the original stone ramparts had collapsed in numerous places, and still carry danger of further collapse. meanwhile, since the trees had long rendered colorful seasons across kumamoto castle, the architects were required to retain as many trees as possible, so that the observation route and construction method were planned with minimum cuttings.

kumamoto castle reconstruction observation path wins GOOD DESIGN good focus award 2020



it was for these considerations that the project has been awarded the GOOD DESIGN award 2020 good focus award. ‘thanks to an exceedingly respectful design, this project is a rare example of a temporary structure that is an extremely beautiful building in its own right, while not impinging upon its surroundings,’ the jury evaluation continues. ‘as such, we wish to highly commend this design.’

kumamoto castle reconstruction observation path wins GOOD DESIGN good focus award 2020

kumamoto castle reconstruction observation path wins GOOD DESIGN good focus award 2020




project info:


award-winning item / project name: kumamoto castle reconstruction observation path

designer: yuzuru tsukagawa, shun hori / NIHON SEKKEI

client: kumamoto city

location: kumamoto-shi, kumamoto

major use: observation path

completion: march 2020

total floor area: 219.70 square meters

structure: S, SRV

floors: 1F

photo credit: kenji masunaga



suzuki jimny


the GOOD DESIGN award was founded in 1957 by the japanese ministry of international trade and industry and is hosted by the japan institute for design promotion. the ‘g mark’ emblem reflects comprehensive design values and principles that aim to enrich lives, industries and society.