"Metal Office" Designed by Renowned Japanese Architect Takashi Yamaguchi


Metal Office
Kyoto, Japan / 2004

The site is in Kansai Science City, a center for cultural and scientific research currently under development among lush green hills at the junction of Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka, an area rich in history, cultural, and natural beauty. Kansai Science City has been conceived as a model city for the 21st century that will rank in scale with Tsukuba Science City. Nearby are the Kansai-kan of the National Diet Library, the basic and applied research facilities of major corporations, and an upper scale residential district.

Employing the three-meter difference in level between the site and road, I made the slope a garden and placed the building above it. In the sloped garden, bamboo, planted parallel to the building at a short distance, softly encloses the exterior space of the entrance. To the rear, on a boundary with adjacent property, a hedge articulates the boundary and hides a parking lot dug into the earth.

The client is a high-tech company engaged in the R&D and importing of precision metal parts. The program called for a building that would perform as a company emblem, taking its image from the precision parts the company handles. Here, I conceived of a simple mass covered with metal panels on exterior walls and even on interior floors, walls, and ceilings.

In order to lighten the presence of the building when viewed from the road, I have made only the upper portion a rectangular metal mass, while employing frosted glass in the lower portion so the building will seem to float on its site. To do this, I took a simple rectangular mass covered with metal, 35m wide, 12.1m deep, and 7.9m high, sliced it, and slid the upper and lower portions south and north. The resulting upper and lower blank spaces I filled in with frosted-glass and metal-fabric volumes.

The lower blank space became an entrance lobby and showroom, and the upper one received the function of a balcony. Two voids pierce the rectangular metal volume, above and below, in a north-south direction. The lower void functions as a ramp connecting the front road with the parking lot to the rear. In the upper void, I have placed a conference room enjoying openness and beautiful views.

All office rooms have been located on the south side for good daylighting and exterior views, with passageways and stairs on the north. The entrance faces on the ramp for ease in carrying goods in and out, with storage space and research labs situated on the first floor. Passing through the entrance hall, a space filled with dazzling milky light, one ascends a darkened stairway to the second floor. Opening a door at the end of a semi-dark assageway, one enters the conference room and confronts a panoramic view of mountains in a space enjoying natural light and openness.

In the design of this building, I sought to satisfy the demands of the program within the context of the building's relationship with its surroundings. At the same time, I sought to arrange spaces of contrasting character?light and dark, open and closed?in varying states of continuity and discontinuity.

This, I felt, would enhance the overall potential of the building and provide a highly functional and comfortable environment. People working here will move through spaces of rich contrast, conscious of the incremental changes effected in the interior by external natural phenomena, and thus enjoy an atmosphere richly stimulating for research and development.

Function / Headquarters, Showroom, Warehouse

Location / Kyoto, Japan
Structure / Steel Frame
Site Area / 1,895.77 m2
Architectural Area / 412.93 m2
Total Floor Area / 803.77 m2
Completed date / January of 2004

Principal architect / Takashi Yamaguchi (TAKASHI YAMAGUCHI & ASSOCIATES)
Structure / Nagahiro Sturucture Office
Client / Dynamic Tools Corporation
Contractor / Noguchi Kensetsu