Design TeamMakoto Yamaguchi, Takaaki Endo, and So Sawada
From the architect. In converting this nondescript, three-story steel building--a former noodle factory sitting among old warehouses in downtown Tokyo--we began by grounding our inspiration on the idea of the "forest" (or "bosco" in Italian). As a result, we made subtle and playful interventions of various scales and materiality, ranging from one of the building to that of the wood grain.
First, to give character to the existing building, we made a simple intervention of wrapping it with mesh metal, through which ivy and other vine plants will climb to submerge the entire volume in utter green among the stark structures that surround the neighborhood. This green motif extends into the entrance hall. Visitors walk toward a stripped log that "floats" inside.
We removed the existing ceiling and forewent the use of partition walls as much as possible to create the feeling of expansive continuity--like a forest--that affords visual access throughout the space, as well as to foster a vibrant work environment. This is evident in the meeting and reception rooms of the second floor, and especially the office space on the third floor. The floor slab was also punctured in the center to place a new, see-through staircase that introduces a more free circulation.
Moreover, to adjust the spatial scale to offer comfort that is appropriate for an office, we placed additional beams matching the existing ones, some of which support the glass partitions. The simple intervention allays the sense of imposition created by the wide spans of the former factory. On the second floor, we also made new window openings in proportions that strategically accommodate the specific activities that occur in each area of the office.
We also used the analogy of stacked chopped firelogs--once again, in reference to a forest--in detailing the surfaces. We aligned the ends of the logs flush with the glass partition where the partition wall meets it, so that the incongruent surfaces can be read in continuity, as a collage. In contrast, on the large wall of the meeting room, the materials take on a new character, pushing and pulling, creating a play of volume and light.
The hardness of the newly exposed steel structure interplays with the softness of the wood. Its scale, relative to the human body, also adjusts itself with the introduction of smaller materials that blend with it in aggregation.