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窓のオフィス

 医療機器メーカーのための埼玉における営業拠点の計画である。クライアントはその業界においてパイオニア的な存在ながらも、同業他社の増加に伴い、従来の対業界内部からエンドユーザーへの認知拡大へと舵をとりつつあった。今回の計画においても、ほぼ半分に近い面積を自社商品をPRすることができる商談スペースに充てることになっている。そこで我々は、幅広く国道に接する敷地条件を生かし、全体が立体的なショーウィンドウを兼ねるファサードを持つ建物を提案した。
 ショーウィンドウであるからして、主役は企業イメージを伝える商品であり、建物は主役を引き立たせる装置である。通りを通る人々に様々な商品ひとつひとつのイメージをアピールするショーウィンドウとなるよう、主張を抑えた白い壁を前面に立て、その壁に単純な四角い窓を切り取り、その窓で商談スペースに並ぶ商品を枠取っている。枠取られることで個々のイメージが際立ち、数々のイメージが次々と現れる。
 その際、建物自体への意識は後退していて欲しい。その存在感を消すため、外壁は100mmのH鋼を用いた最小断面の鉄骨構造とし、壁の薄肉化を図った。また、仕上げはフラットなサイディングを塗装しているが、役物や水切りといった当たり前の顔をして付いてくる物たちを極力省略し、最小限の線となるディテールでまとめている。
 建物は大きく、1階−2階、表−裏、で4等分し、表を上下二層の商談スペース、裏を事務室と倉庫に充てている。表と裏の間にはファサードと同型の窓が開いた壁を設け、表−間−裏と、計3枚の窓が重なる構成としている。これにより、表と裏の公私を適切に分けつつも、全ての室が両面から光を取り入れることができる。結果、照明に頼らない明るいショーウィンドウが出来上がった。
 床と屋根は、木梁を鉄骨の壁の間に掛け渡している。軽量な床としてローコストを図りながら、ブレースの無いすっきりとした架構をそのまま天井の仕上げとして、無機質になりがちなオフィス空間に温もりを与えている。建物全体は910mmモジュールで構成し、ベニヤ、サイディング、石膏ボードといった種々の規格材料で無駄を省く。その点では今日の一般的な在来木造に近いオフィス建築であり、ただ、純木造に拘らず適材適所に努める、いわば「木造のような」作り方でコストボリュームを落とす試みである。
 夜になると、鉛直面輝度を抑えた外壁は夕闇に朧げに消え、内と外の輝度差によって窓がより浮かび上がる。通行人がはたと自転車を止め見上げたその場所は窓の前であったから、その瞬間は、我々の試みが成功した時でもあった。

Office of Windows

   Office of Windows is an office building for a company that specializes in physical therapy and rehabilitation equipment. It is situated along National Road in the Greater Tokyo Area, Saitama, Japan. The client is a pioneer for specialty equipment who has recently shifted focus to brand awareness and industrial sales to better reach their customers. Due to the recent increase of competition in the rehabilitation industry, the company wants to build greater awareness for their products. To meet our clients interests, we designed an office where almost half of the building space has been allocated to customer sales and discussion spaces. Given the site conditions and neighbouring road, we thought it would be best to give the building an entire shopfront for its facade. A series of windows display the company's products one by one, like a sequence of picture frames.
   The shopfront is the heart to a company's products. The building is simply a backdrop to complement the products on display. Simple white walls with square windows line up along street, and each opening frames a window with a product on display. The framing effect makes each product stand out, creating a series of images for the viewer. One by one, the windows showcases its goods, ready to capture the eyes of each passerbyer the moment they come past.
   In this regard, we want people to be less conscious of the buildings actual presence and to be more conscious of the shopfront windows. We put specific thought into omitting commonly accepted details from the facade, reducing detailed parts to a bare minimum. The wall thickness itself is minimized and was designed with the smallest size H-section steel, at 100mm each. Removing a single visible line from the design meant eliminating the detailed components associated with that line. Wall panels were chosen for their simple exterior finish and any apparent details such as trims and flushing were also omitted.
   The space is divided into four areas, a front and back on each floor. The front areas are sales spaces, and rear areas are for office and storage. A single wall is inserted lengthways through the office plan, dividing each floor into separate spaces. Hence, three openings, front, wall and back, each overlap. We wanted to create a clear separation between front and back, but also appropriately divide the public and private spaces. At the same time, all the rooms are filled with light from both front and back. The store window is also bright enough without needing daytime illumination.
   The timber floor frame is held up with wooden beams hosted between steel walls, a lightweight and cost-effective solution. Such a structural wooden frame without any bracing becomes the ceiling finish itself, with exposed beams and floorboards visible from the floor below. This design choice makes the otherwise sterile office environment, feel warm and hospitable.
   The building is organized with a traditional Japanese timber construction method using 910mm modules. This Japanese standard is economical for the design as it allowed us to adopt standardized materials, such as veneer, wall panel finishings, and cement board. It is similar to conventional timber frame construction. The aim was to reduce overall costs by using “timber-like” construction in the right places without clinging onto the pure timber frame construction.

   As dusk approaches and night settles in, Office of Window’s exterior walls seemingly disappear. The luminance between inside and outside allows the windows to glow in the night. In the evening, passersby stop their bicycles in front of the windows, drawn in by the dramatic effect that the windows create. It is at this moment, we knew our attempt had succeeded.

LOCATION: SAITAMA
STATUS: COMPLETED
YEAR: 2014~2016
COLLABORATION: Niji Architects
STR. ENGINEER: オーノJAPAN
PHOTO CREDIT: MASAFUMI HARADA/Niji Photo


MEDIA: architecturephoto.net

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