The rectangular openings allow sunlight and rain to enter this semi-covered multi-purpose square designed by Junya Ishigami for the Kanagawa Institute of Technology in Japan. The square is located right in the corner of the campus next to a building also designed by the Japanese designer.
In a text on the multipurpose project, Ishigami explained that the campus lacked spaces for leisure moments where students could meet and sit on the ground to chat, have lunch or take a nap. The square is conceived as a heterogeneous space with various potential uses, but it is primarily a place of spontaneous social interaction. It can also be used to host temporary stalls during campus festivals or to showcase student projects.
When you emphasize how to use it, you focus on making a program. This project emphasizes the experience of space more than the ways to use it.Junya Ishigami
Semi-external “multipurpose” naturalness
The campus's existing outdoor spaces were mostly surrounded by buildings, clearly man-made environments lacking the changing qualities of natural spaces. The square aims to complement the architecture of the campus by creating the sensation of a landscape in which the changes of the seasons and the “outside” weather influence the physical experience “inside” the space.
In pursuing the semi-external nature of this square, this place should maintain half of the characteristics of the existing environment and integrate the other half with architectural elements. This creates a "new exterior"Junya Ishigami
A new horizon
The multipurpose square is designed to evoke a landscape that extends towards a horizon line, in this case, it is the point where the floor curves to meet the slightly arched roof. The windows set into the cool white walls offer glimpses of the interior sheltered from the outside.
The roof consists of a single 1.2cm thick steel surface supported by four 25cm thick external walls. A network of "ribs" that function as compression rings help reduce the tension exerted on the walls.
The maximum span of the roof is about 90 meters and the floor below gradually gains five meters in height from one end to the other. The height (so to speak) of the roof rises from about 2,2 meters to a maximum of 2,8 meters, in line with typical Japanese housing standards.
A multipurpose window to the outside. Or on the inside
A horizon, I said, with many windows. 59 rectangular openings were cut into the roof to allow daylight to enter the multipurpose space. On days when the sun is shining, well-defined patches of light form on the floor, while on cloudy days a more blurred pattern of light and shadow is created. The spatial irregularity of the light shadows changes with the weather and atmospheric conditions.
Wind and rain can also enter the building through the openings, improving the connection with the outside. On rainy days, it is possible to see "columns of rain" entering space. The ground of the multipurpose square is covered with a permeable asphalt that allows the water to absorb instantly and flow into the ground below, keeping the square dry and free of puddles.
Ishigami wanted patrons to feel comfortable sitting on the ground inside the square, encouraging them to spend time appreciating the changing elements and creating a greater sense of connection with the building.
People can sit freely on the sloping floor, stand up or even lie down inside the building. On a comfortable hill-like slope that looks almost like a huge bed, the body and the environment are integrated like a scenery.Junya Ishigami