Studio Velocity designed a new office building in a residential neighborhood in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. A single curved surface creates a variety of inside uses and becomes a functional roof terrace.
Courtesy Studio Velocity
One large curved surface creates a diverse single room with varying ceiling heights in different places beneath it. Workspace areas are punctuated by small exterior terraces on the ground floor, and a small communal kitchen and dining area exists on the upper floor that opens up toward the rooftop and the soft, enveloping space above it like the inside of a plate. It is designed to provide both open interior space and a rooftop space with moderate privacy in a dense residential area.
What is the best way to create a curved surface? You can make a curved surface with reinforced concrete. You can also make a curved surface using bent, glued material. You can also create a polygonal structure with a curved surface using finished materials. The first and second options are costly because it requires more work to build and unnecessarily increases the thickness of the slab. The architects, instead, considered the third option, creating a new curved surface by using a very thin, flattened material with a flat cross-section. The curved surface is created by gravity and tension.
To prevent the interior space from being overly dominated by structural principles, the tensile material is made of cypress wood rather than wire. This makes the interior space feel familiar. What stands out, instead, are the proportions of the heavily flattened and bent beams and the columns that at first glance don’t seem to be able to support the roof.
The randomly distributed wood tensions softly define the space and are designed in parallel with the arrangement of the furniture and the overall cohesion of the project. As people climb onto the rooftop, the tension on the lower vertical columns gradually decreases. It is designed so that compression does not occur until a maximum of 150 people (40 kg/m2) are on the roof. The loading loads and tensile tensions on the rooftop keep the building’s shape constant.
Unlike steel frames and reinforced concrete, it is impossible to know the behavior of wood-based on only structural calculations. The architects performed non-destructive strength tests on all of the wood used to achieve behavior that would be consistent with the structural calculations. The timber Young’s modulus was selected after averaging the destructive testing of a lot of lumber or by very rough grading tests (tests assigned to different strengths). Even within the same species, each piece of wood has different properties and strengths. The actual (inherent) strength of each piece cannot be known without this testing. The arrangement of lamina was designed through 12-inch precision planks of wood that were fabricated based on individual data obtained from the load testing of approximately 1100 lamina lumber.
Courtesy Studio Velocity
DATE: 2019 / LOCATION: Okazaki city, Aichi Prefecture, Japan / PROGRAM: office / STATUS: built / DESIGN: Studio Velocity / PHOTOS: Studio Velocity