Junya Ishigami's University project space

published in: Architecture By Costas Voyatzis, 13 May 2008

Pin It

words by Julian Worrall for iconeye

A white forest in a grey field, Junya Ishigami’s university project space in the foothills west of Tokyo is a building designed to almost disappear. The young Japanese conjurer, who since 2004 has performed a series of astonishing acts of levitation upon furniture and building-sized volumes in galleries, has completed his first construction in the open air.

The Facility is a loosely programmed building at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology devoted to the general activity of  “making things”. In this space, students from a range of engineering and design disciplines collaborate with the local community to craft anything from furniture to robots.

The structure presents another round in the architect’s ongoing contest with gravity. The forest comprises 305 slender steel 5m-high columns, irregularly orientated and distributed throughout the space, while the field from which they rise is a distorted square bed of concrete, 47m by 46m, slightly raised above the surrounding bitumen. A flat roof caps the space with linear roof lights, and a frameless glass perimeter seals it. The architecture ends there; its animation then takes over with furniture, pot plants and people.

Ishigami explains the evolution of the design as a painstaking investigation of the relationships between the columns – a task for which he developed custom-made software. “I wanted to make a space with very ambiguous borderlines, which has a fluctuation between local spaces and the overall space, rather than a universal space like that of Mies,” says Ishigami. “This allows a new flexibility to emerge, revealing reality rather than shaping it.”

images by Iwan Baan


KANAGAWA INSTITUTE , Junya IshigamiIwan Baan

  • friend
    Le Fiffre | 2008-05-14 06:36:18

    Astonishing. The sensation is one of an indoor forest. Great space. Also, seismically sound with minimal moment arm and maximim lateral yield strength (except for the glass, ahem).

  • friend
    bullin | 2008-05-14 07:00:16

    Very nice introduction. Will share the story in my Chinese blog.

  • friend
    Adrian C. | 2008-05-14 17:15:16

    This is a beautiful piece. I love the openness and the play of potted plants and old wooden desks with the stark white surfaces and the bright natural light. I would love to work in a space like that. The fact that there are no walls and that it is for the designing and fabricating of, "anything from furniture to robots" must make for some exciting exchanges of ideas across disciplines. However this is essentially a very large space intended to be used for creation with very loud power tools and machines. It must get very loud in there which must interfere terribly with the concentration of those within it. The only way that I could actually get any work done there is to have a very good set of noise canceling or isolating headphones on. But this is something that I have to do in my studio of only 11 people. I do think that that is a small price to pay for being able to use such a space. Well done.

  • friend
    Rodrigo| | 2008-07-01 15:37:15

    One of the most beautiful buildings i've seen. "Mies Van Der Rohe into zen with a touch of humbleness".

  • friend
    Eric Hewitt | 2010-08-25 19:16:32

    I studied at this university for three years while I was in Japan. The building is used as a workshop to give students a hands on knowledge of modern and traditional Japanese art, craft, and manufacturing techniques. I made my first Japanese chawan (Traditional Japanese tea boil) in this building. Jun is a great photographer, hope he goes onto take many wonderful photos or Kanagawa and Tokyo.

Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you. - {x}

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the * required information where indicated. Please also rate the article as it will help us decide future content and posts. Comments are moderated. Please no link dropping, no keywords or domains as names; do not spam, and do not advertise!