Some photos recently posted on reddit of a shopping mall in central Osaka surprised those not living Japan some of whom wanted to live in the mall. This, in turn, surprised Japanese people who didn’t know it was that amazing to others.

The mall, aptly named Namba Parks certainly looks beautiful from this angle but there is actually function as well as form at work here.

If you were to view Osaka from above, you would probably see majority of green roofs.  This is a deliberate effort to help lower temperatures in the city. Osaka, like many other major cities in Japan are vastly sprawling urban landscapes almost entirely covered in asphalt or cement.

As a result the cities become intense heat islands that can only be relieved through the creation of more green space.  Unfortunately space is a premium in these parts of Japan and green land doesn’t bring in the green, which leaves roof tops as the only viable location.

Namba Parks was created by Award winning architect Jon Jerde with this in mind. And with the recent posting of his work yielding comments such as “so much engineering goodness in this… makes my eyes teary” and “I was at a place extremely similar to this in one of my dreams. Cool.”

It certainly looks fantastic from the angle of this photograph. Unfortunately the residents of Osaka rarely get this view of it. Approaching it from ground level it looks a lot more like your regular shopping mall, especially on the inside.

That’s not to say it’s still not gorgeous though.  The rooftop park can be a great place to take a date and the whole place has a clean, theme-parkish vibe to it.  One time by chance I was able to catch a free magic show being performed at the small amphitheater at the very top of the building.

As one person astutely mentions, “Trying to find a store in that place must be exhausting.”  If there is a down-side to this complex, it’s than it can be confusing as all hell to find a place with its offset floors.  I often found myself accidentally leaving the mall while looking for something.

So basically, Namba Parks doesn’t quite live up to that photo once you get in it, but it’s a good place to bum around for an afternoon or do some shopping.  It’s definitely designed for the aimless type shopping rather than an in-and-out job.

Source: reddit (English) via Byokan Sunday (Japanese)