Architect: Yuko Nagayama & Associates, Tokyo, Japan
Location: 1-2-19 Toyo-Boulevard 102 Kaigandori, Chuo-Ward, Kobe, Japan
Client: Au gré du vent Ltd., Kobe
Landscape architect: Toshiya Ogino, Osaka
Usable spance: 144 m²
The foothills of Mount Rokko on Japan’s Honshu island reach down like lava flows towards Kobe, seemingly pushing the city to the shores of the sea. While the densely wooded, 931-metre-high mountain serves as a local recreation area, it is barely discernible in the street canyons of the city. Thus when the architect Yuko Nagayama and the landscape planner Toshiya Ogino were commissioned to design a showroom for the Sisii fashion label not even two kilometres from this landscape, they decided to bring the woods into its interior.
Employees and customers entering the showroom with its integrated office areas take four steps up from the street and immediately find themselves on steel-plate pathways leading between oases of green. The flooring, which is black in colour due to the phosphoric acid with which the steel was galvanised, continues through the interior and in places is folded up towards the ceiling to form partitions, or cut away altogether to reveal sunken spaces where meetings are held or employees are able to work undisturbed.
At this lower level the surface of the flooring is repeated on table tops, while wooden compartments installed beneath the raised floor act as storage space for less decorative but indispensable items such as folders, printers and other office materials. Here and there the steel membrane has the appearance of being punctured by greenery, as if nature were forcing its way through the man-made floor surface with trees, shrubs, ferns and moss growing between lava stones in a complex solution made up of planter troughs, and watering, drainage and ventilation systems.