The fit-out and furnishings of this workspace in Kawasaki reflect the aesthetic and environmental priorities of the client
Kajima Design Studio has designed the new headquarters of Sigma, the Japanese manufacturer of digital cameras, interchangeable lenses and photographic accessories.
The building - constructed in just two years - is in Kawasaki, an industrial area surrounded by greenery, a stone’s throw from Shinkōji Park.
The vision behind the project was to create a lively professional space in close dialogue with the surrounding natural environment; a place made dynamic by the fluid interaction between colleagues.
The architectural complex rises at the back of a hill and consists of three parts: two white elements connected by a dark monolith. It is inside the brighter blocks that corporate life takes place, not only in the offices but also in the laboratories, darkrooms and photo exhibition rooms.
The dark-coloured block is a space that chronicles Sigma’s innovations in technology and design using a museum-like layout.
The building seems to live in symbiosis with its natural surroundings and seasons, thanks in part to the landscape design, construction and maintenance by Green Wise.
In spring, the cafeteria building has a view of cherry blossoms; in the autumn, yellow chestnut-leaved oaks, while the entire building is traversed by green corridors and patios. Even its main facade of mirror-brushed aluminum seems to dematerialise to embrace nature.
Sustainability features prominently in Kajima Design’s construction choices, which favour precast and prefabricated structures to make the building more streamlined and environmentally friendly.
It is a sustainable building in terms of energy too, thanks to a photovoltaic system that meets the needs of the entire building and powers the electric charging stations in the parking lot.
The rooftop garden, created to promote thermal insulation by reusing residual earth after excavation, is in line with these solutions.
The intimate relationship between architecture and natural surroundings is guided by the interior design project, created by architect Riccardo Daniel in collaboration with Arper.
‘The light colours of the offices and common areas - from plaster to wall coverings - are enlivened by the palette of the furnishings,' says Daniel, 'a mix of neutral tones and shades of green in the meeting areas and open spaces, with counterpoints in bright, autumnal tones in the recreational areas.
‘The Arper collections become sparks of colour, whose nuances identify the intended use and atmosphere of the space.’
The synergy that was created between Sigma and Arper with this project is also due to Ichiro Iwasaki, creative director of the Japanese company and creator of several Arper collections.
‘Right from the start, I felt that these spaces needed to support the daily activities of the people who work for Sigma,' says Iwasaki. 'These people focus every day on the microscopic details of precision devices.
'This is why Concentration and Relaxation are the two thematic strands that alternate in this new location, depending on the intended use of each area. And the same logic guided the selection of the furniture, which also needed to convey the Arper spirit - which I like to call 'Arperness'.'
The lines of the furnishings redraw the interior volumes, their heights playing an important role in bringing space back to a human and dynamic dimension that encourages interaction and sharing.
This approach is also present in the idea of the ‘open desk’ proposed by Arper and embraced by CEO Yamaki Kazuto, which encourages using the office in a more active and lively way.
This is refreshing not only for Sigma, but for Japanese companies in general and demonstrates how the concept of a space can influence not only the lives of those who inhabit it, but also the very idea of that environment and the conventions and atmospheres it evokes.
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