Plaza of Kanagawa Institute of Technology by Junya.Ishigami+Associates

Plaza of Kanagawa Institute of Technology

A versatile space is identified as a heterogeneous space. Due to the campus lack of places where students can take a break and relax — sit on the ground enjoying lunch, taking a nap, doing sports on rainy days, set up temporary stalls during campus festivals, displaying thesis projects and machinery — it is necessary to introduce an attractive versatile space, involving ambiguous programs.

When you emphasize on the ways of use, you focus on the realization of a program. Instead the project emphasizes more on the experience of the space rather than the ways to use it. If you emphasize on the ways of how to spend time here, the focus is on personal experience. The process of passing time becomes the subject, meanwhile the sense of program would be relatively less prominent.

Considering the nature of the space being semi-outdoor, setting up a ventilated space solely for the purpose of rain and sunlight protection would not be appropriate if the existing environmental characteristic remains unchanged. The majority of the outdoor space on the campus is surrounded by school buildings, the lack of landscape diversity makes the environment seem artificial, and users are rarely attracted by the changes in natural landscape.

The Horizon
It is a place where users imaging themselves as if looking over the distant horizon, and immerse themselves in the magnificent scenery as time pass by. The ground stretches away to meet the sky at the end of the enormous curved surface, forming a line of demarcation, leading the users to perceive the boundless world on the other side of the horizon.

Scenery in Architecture
Taking advantage of the existing 2 meters of height difference between the campus ground level and project plane, the height of the building is minimized to create a new ground space that is integrated with the natural ground. The structure is imagined from the action of lifting up an expansive iron plate on four supporting walls. Without any column inside, the iron plate bends slightly to form a spectacular curved surface. The ground is concave in parallel to the smoothly curved ceiling.

By referencing the proportion in section between the sky and earth, the height of the ceiling is set as low as possible in relation to the vast plane of the space. The ceiling and the ground bend and stretch to meet in distance, thus creating a horizon inside the building. There are 59 openings on the roof. Areas underneath these openings are well lit up while other areas can maintain appropriate dimness as the lowered ceiling filters the entering light.

The spatial un-evenness of light’s shades changes according to time and weather. The openings are not covered by glass, and wind and rain can enter the interior. On rainy days, raindrops falling through the openings look like rain pillars, creating a hazy scenery. You can feel the sound of rain in the room, and see the rain in front of you, so the natural changes perceived by the body become the architectural scenery.

User and Environment
The relationship between people and environment should be as close as possible, in a direct relationship, so they can feel the nature strongly when sitting on the ground, and develop an intimacy with the building when sitting on the floor. In this project, the starting point is set to be the “sitting” state. People can sit freely on the sloped floor, stand up or even lie down within the building. On a comfortable hill-like slope that feel almost like a huge bed, the body and the environment are integrated as one scenery.

As the wind gently caresses the skin, the cloud guides the shift of sunlight, the brilliant light spots scatters on the floor, the raindrops make an echo, and the silent snow fall creates depth. It becomes a place to put yourself in the shaft of time, to spend a relaxing time with faint sense of purpose. Thus, like the urban ramp that becomes a monument in the city, this slope will also become an emblematic place on the campus.

The horizon creates spatial segmentation and expanse at the same time. Within this landscape it seems as if those aspects are connected but distant, distant but united, there seems to be very but few, and few but a lot. The sense of distance and density integrates human gathering into the environment, granting freedom by openness and comfort of the space. This new space of “outside-ness” serves as a campus plaza and becomes a gathering place for people on campus. Source by Junya Ishigami.

  • Location: Kanagawa, Japan
  • Architect: Junya.Ishigami+Associates
  • Principal architect: Junya Ishigami
  • Project team: Taeko Abe, Shuma Tei, Motosuke Mandai, Sachie Morita, Toru Yamada, Masayuki Asami, Federico Lepre
  • Structural engineer: Jun Sato Structural Engineers
  • Constructor: Kajima Corporation
  • Client: Ikutoku Gakuen/Kanagawa Institute of Technology
  • Surface area: 4,109.78m2
  • Year: 2020
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Junya.Ishigami+Associates

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