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Additional Resources

For additional information on the Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center, please visit the architect Emilio Ambasz’s website and the Emilio Ambasz Virtual Museum website.

Case Studies

Emilio Ambasz Virtual Museum; Emilio Ambasz & AssociatesNakane Garden Research & Landscape Consultant Co.INA – Institute of New Architecture; Architour.


April 4, 2024 3:07 Ambasz Virtual Museum – Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center by Linda & Aramis Velázquez on the Emilio Ambasz Playlist on YouTube.


June 3-5 2019 Proceedings of the TensiNet Symposium 2019, page 262 by Maggioli SpA with License Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0; June 18, 2018 5 ‘green over gray’ sustainable architecture projects by Emilio Ambasz By Denny Mata in BluePrint.

The Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center from the Architect Emilio Ambasz:

A cultural and athletic center erected by a department store chain in the new town of Shin-Sanda benefits not only its employees but also the growing local community.

The difficult challenge of this Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center project was to accommodate the immense massing requirements of the building’s 450,000 square feet (approximately 45.000 square meters) while sympathetically acknowledging the serene open landscape beyond. Ambasz was able to return to the new town of Shin-Sanda virtually all of the greenery that this enormous building footprint would normally have taken away.

This design for a cultural and athletic center was conceived as two hands touching at the wrists, with both “hands” shielding and cherishing the earth. The mass of the 450,000 square foot building is an elegant L-shaped wall, embracing a garden hillside and defining a winter garden along its outer perimeter.

The Japan Housing Authority was very pleased with the overall benefit that such a design solution would bring to the community, and as an incentive and ultimate reward for this inventive solution for the Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center, they reduced the cost of the land by almost two-thirds.


Also known as the “Mycal Bore Sanda Atrium Gardens, Tea Garden and Rooftop Garden” and “Mycal Mita/Pororocca,” the cultural and athletic center was built by Mycal, which had stores nationwide before being merged with Aeon. The corporate training facility was built in Sanda City, a suburban city in the Hyogo Prefecture. The large atrium is covered with undulating glass, creating a greenhouse-like space filled with plants, typical of the “Green Over the Gray” philosophy of architect Emilio Ambasz.

Its “slender exposed form houses the offices and smaller meeting rooms, while the larger volumes contains the athletic facilities and other multi-purpose hall beneath the garden landscape.” ~ BluPrint

The landscape architecture firm, Nakane Garden Research & Landscape Consultant Co., says they “took into consideration the idea of ​​giving visitors a sense of nature and the seasons… designed to allow children to experience nature and the peace it provides, and to make them realize that humans and nature exist in a coexisting relationship.”

“At the north and south ends of the atrium garden, there are two types of waterfalls, each with a different landscape, and the design is such that the falling water flows into the central pond while making various sounds…

…For the planting design, in order to understand the sunlight conditions, etc., we actually stood on the site from before sunrise to after sunset and experienced the environment such as sunlight, and then selected 32,200 plants of 33 species.” ~ Nakane Garden Research & Landscape Consultant Co.

Despite its proximity to the epicenter of the earthquake that hit the city of Kobe in 1995, the Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center in Shin-Sanda hardly suffered any damage. Quoting its example, the:

“…Mycal Sanda Pororoca, designed with concept of pororoca (huge backward tidal bore)…Its 2 sloping roofs of 30m x 100m consist of 4,000 glass pieces, but none of the pieces was broken when The Great Hanshin earthquake occurred on January 17, We designed 3-D structure along with the sloping roofs using basic units of 3-pin structure, which is stable under gravity load but when earthquake occurs the joint solely deforms significantly.  Also, steel pipes of -250mm for sloping beams and bottom chords of originally shaped steel rods, which resist tensile stress effectively, were applied…” ~ Proceedings of the TensiNet Symposium 2019, page 262

The Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center has won numerous awards including the 2001 First prize for environmental architecture – Japanese Institute of Architects; 2001 DuPont Benedictus Award; 2000 Saflex Design Award; 1993 Special Award from the Japanese Department of Public Works, 1993 Special Grand Prize of the Society of Japanese Structural Engineers.

Visit the new Emilio Ambasz Virtual Museum website to see the Mycal Cultural and Athletic Center and learn all about his wide body of work. The owner of more than 220 industrial and mechanical patents, the architect and inventor shares his many years of experience in architecture, urban design, industrial and graphic design, and more.

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