As known for its master-design by Isamu Noguchi, Moerenuma Park in Sapporo, a capital of Hokkaido, was planed as a “park that is considered to be one complete sculpture”. Being focused their attention on its simple yet dynamic park’s grand open in 1995, people all around the world, however, should learn not only its design but also the effort to concern for the environment. I like to introduce some of their approach to it.

Eco-friendly system at Moerenuma Park

As is generally known, Isamu Noguchi, a world famous sculptor, designs the master plan of Moerenuma Park. But it’s a little known fact that Moerenuma Park was constructed on the waste landfill, which was started in 1979 to plan for the core park under the “Circular Greenbelt Concept”, which aims to shape a green networking areas around the center of Sapporo. Taking 26 years and using 2.7 million tons of trash to complete developing land, the broad site of the park has finally consisted of facilities including gloves, play equipments, a beach, mountains, a fountain and a pyramid, in which has been put Isamu Noguchi’s enthusiasm. Among those facilities, “Glass Pyramid – HIDAMARI” is a highly conspicuous facility in its presence and is playing an important part in forming the whole park as a symbol of Moerenuma Park. “HIDAMARI” means “suntrap” in Japanese, so that you can easily imagine inside of the atrium is very warm because of its entirely covered glass, which lets sunlight into the atrium. In winter HIDAMARI literally becomes a suntrap while outside of the building is covered in snow. How about in summer? Even Hokkaido is located in up north in Japan, it will be blazing hot summer and the atrium gets hot inside like a greenhouse. So what comes next is a “snow air conditioning system”, which will keep the temperature comfortable in the glass pyramid.

Eco-friendly system at Moerenuma Park

Prior to the first introduction of the “snow air conditioning system” into the public facility in Sapporo, the glass pyramid was opened in 2003, 2 years earlier than the park’s grand opening. The “snow air conditioning system” is an air conditioning system using snow. The system is introduced in the glass pyramid as one of air cooling systems in summer, and is operated for 3 months, from June to September every year.
Every March at Moerenuma Park, snow on the parking lot and park road is carried into the snow storage all at once. The storage is 3000m3 capacity. Inside the storage melted snow becomes cool water, which is then circulated through a heat exchanger to distribute cool air from the air ventilation in each room. Meanwhile, warm air in each room is circulated back through the exchanger becoming warm water, which melts snow down to producing cool water. This circulation system is utilized for the “snow air conditioning system” in the park.

Eco-friendly system at Moerenuma Park

Snow air conditioning system diagram © Moerenuma Park

“Snow air conditioning system” is effective in reducing CO2 for the prevention of global warming. Using electricity and fossil fuel energy such as gas and oil operates the most commonly utilized cooling system, which cause CO2 generation. The snow air conditioning system, on the other hand, uses cool water from melted snow, so that there is no need for energy to cool, which means no CO2 generation at all.
Natural gas is effectively utilized for the air heating system in winter and when lacking in snow in summer. What if all the energy is supplied with gas? They estimate that will produce about 30 tons of CO2 generation every year. Deducting 5 tons of CO2 generation emitted by snow-plow trucks to carry snow to the snow storage, they expect to reduce about 25 tons of CO2 every year by using the snow air conditioning system.

In addition to the snow air conditioning system, there are 2 other eco-friendly ways to cool air. One is the idea of cooling with outside air, which regulates the room temperature provided by natural ventilation through both opening windows and the air supply unit. Another one is the heat absorption system used under the stone-made floor in the atrium. Cool water is circulated through the pipe under the floor, which cools down the stone and eventually cools down air inside the room. Introducing these 3 air ventilation systems derived cold energy from nature, they approach earth-consciously to take advantage of nature of the local weather.

Eco-friendly system at Moerenuma Park

Encircled by the larch grove, “Sea Fountain” is another popular facility approaching CO2 reduction. “Sea Fountain” is operated several times each day according to its schedule. Audience stands around the fountain to enjoy the “sculpture of water” show for 40 minute for each program (15 min. for a short program). Splashing maximum height of 25m water columns from the center of the fountain, the water becomes orderly waves of the sea, to eventually form a huge puddle of water expanded to a diameter of 48m. About 2000 tons of water is used for each program, which the water is stored in the area 300m below ground and is re-used every time for its operation. The recycle use of water play a role to reduce CO2 in the park.


The site for Moerenuma Park is vast. The park covers approximately 189-hactare (467acres), which is equivalent area of 34 Sapporo Domes or 40 Tokyo Domes. You will take 1.5 to 2 hours to walk around the park where is a habitat of a variety of trees, plans and flowers, and animals. When you look on the habitat (biotope) in environmental (ecological) view, you will find an idea “eco biotope” that the plants and trees are playing important role in the CO2 reduction, which will prevent from global warming. According to the “environment map 2008” by Moerenuma Park, the amount plants and trees, including the broadleaf tree such as cherry and the softwood such as larch, absorb CO2 is almost same amount as 1270 people release CO2 emissions for a year.

Eco-friendly system at Moerenuma Park

Prior to G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which will be held on July 7th, “Children’s World Summit for the Environment in Sapporo”, supported by Sapporo city, has been taking place in the Glass Pyramid as a main venue. Also “J8 Junior Summit 2008” by Chitose city will be held on July 8th in Moerenuma Park as one of the venue.

Talking about the snow air conditioning system, Moerenuma Park marked its 6th season for utilizing the system this year. Every year they are assigned “to use whole snow” to make the snow storage empty, for not to produce additional energy for remove leftover snow which will then cause additional CO2 emissions. To be able to use whole snow at the end of every September, checking weather forecast becomes their routine work and they seek to the most effective use of the snow air conditioning system in an eco-friendly view. When thawing season comes, you will feel spring in the air as you see changing colors from all white to various colors of green. People, trees and plans are all breathing. Such an ordinary operation of nature will develop into eco-friendly ideas of creativity. Ecological approach to the environment at Moerenuma Park will be continued in the future.

Moerenuma Park
Address: 1-1 Moerenuma Park, Higashi-Ku, Sapporo, Japan
Tel: 011-790-1231

Text and photos: Mariko Takei

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Marianna Dobkowska