Project: IHI Innovation Center
Architecture: Nikken Sekkei
Construction: Nomura Co Ltd.
Location: Yokohama, Japan
Total floor area: 1,243 m2 (2 floors out of 5 floors above ground)
Photo Credits: Nacasa & Partners
With a history spanning over 160 years, IHI is Japan’s leading heavy industry conglomerate. In order to respond quickly to the complex, changing needs of society and its customers, IHI needed to create a “base” for developing new businesses with its partners by utilizing its advanced technological capabilities.
Planning started with finding IHI’s uniqueness. Much of the planning period was spent in dialogues with IHI’s people, and included close observation of engineers’ daily activities, interviews with all executives, fieldwork at similar facilities, and a wide range of workshops, in order to identify specific issues and set clear goals. Various functions, characteristics and environments required for the project were identified as a result.
A variety of elements were required for the facility. A 14m x 75m horizontal floor shape was utilized to match the innovation process, while a “layered” plan format allowed different functions of the space to be arranged in side-by-side fashion. Public spaces for connecting people and information within and outside the company were arranged, as were private spaces for start-up teams and individual researchers to immerse themselves. In this way, a system was created to accelerate project pursuits.
Next, the entire space was purposely left undetailed for later “overlay.” This meant that floors, walls, ceilings, signage, base coat and over coat were left with “rough” finishes. Rather than an uncluttered, stain-resistant, single-use format facility, the space was designed to be plied unhesitatingly, much like a personal garden, ready for arranging to one’s liking to develop new ideas.
By incorporating full-scale manufacturing industry products such as H-beams into the space, a miniature “everyday scene” was created to make it easier, to the craftman’s mind, to discover new perspectives. In addition, although the facility is technically an interior design, it is considered an exterior space; thanks to architectural and civil engineering scales, an open environment like a park or city takes shape and goes far beyond the conventional interior scale.
The IHI Innovation Center ’s space design ensures that the routine acts of noticing and discovering become starting points for innovation.