When Japanese architect Junya Ishigami set out to design a news space at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology, he wanted a design that was inspired by nature. What he came up with is an open plan building that’s about 2,000 square meters in area. The glass and steel KAIT Workshop contains no interior walls, and the roof is supported quite literally by a forest of supports.
Glass blurs the boundaries of the space
The 305 supports, which are all unique in size and angle, evoke a forest, which is exactly what Ishigami was going for. The school wanted to build a space that students and the public could use to work on individual projects. Because the space was not intended for any specific purpose, its interior needed to be highly flexible, and able to be transformed rapidly, based on the users’ immediate needs.
The final design of the building was inspired by the ambiguity found in natural forests. Upon close inspection, forests are not uniform arrangements of trees, but instead feature random, self-initiated placements of trees of all sizes and shapes. Open spaces combine with tightly clustered growth to form what appears to be a single, definable unit. The borders between open and closed spaces in the forest is ambiguous, at best. This is what Ishigami was aiming for in the building’s design.
The structure of the building is steel, and the outside walls are made of glass. The building was not designed with earthquake resistance in mind. The building is built on a concrete-and-bituminous foundation. The glass walls use the visually striking foundation to blur the distinction between interior and exterior space. The roof combines steel and glass to admit as much natural light as possible.
The interior of the building is stocked with chairs, tables and workspaces, which students can use and reconfigure as needed. The interior design of the building is meant to challenge the distinction between the building’s “local” spaces and its universal space.
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Photo Credit: Maurizio Muccicola, via Flickr.com