NICCA Innovation Center serves as a research facility for a chemical manufacturer group that has been based in Fukui Prefecture since 1941.
Located within an urban environment lined with residential houses, it is designed as an innovation hub—a bazaar for the exchange of knowledge and skills—to bring people ‘from the world to Fukui’.
The enveloping aluminium louvres on the façade resemble woven fabric, representing the textile industry with which the company is closely associated. They hide pipes while mitigating the sun’s rays from the east and filtering the surroundings.
Commons—open-concept hot-desking offices—are located in the centre of the building as multipurpose spaces that facilitate active interactions and ‘cross-fertilisation’ of ideas and approaches. The commons are also linked seamlessly to the various laboratories, which have been ‘opened’ up with glass walls—liberating researchers from the solitude of work and inspiring interaction within an integrated research community.
While the commons on the second and third floors are intended for employees, there is a public common on the first floor that is open to visitors and people from the community. In that space, there is also a showcase, café, cafeteria, practical laboratory, hair salon and hall.
A ‘street’ connecting the first through fourth floor allows a bird’s eye view and multi-layered experience of the building’s spaces. This ‘street’ is intentionally made longer than necessary to elicit more encounters with researchers.
Idea Tables are set up in the hallways to encourage collaboration, while contemplation rooms and library offer some personal space.
A COMFORTABLE CAVERN
Louvre-like slits in the concrete ceiling, with a parallelogram cross-section, function as passageways for natural light and wind into the interiors. The gabled top light can be opened and closed to capture the prevailing wind that blows north-south over the Fukui plains, drawing it into the commons by gravity-based ventilation.
To reduce the heat from the natural lighting, the sun’s movements were calculated to determine the angle and aesthetics of the ceiling slits. Thermal active building system (TABS) pipes within the slabs and walls provide radiant air-conditioning using Fukui’s abundant groundwater. After the groundwater cools the solar radiation, it is used in the laboratories, toilets, sprinklers and for melting snow. A thermal storage-type system is used to pump hot water for heating during winter.
NICCA Innovation Center
12,360.37 square metres
Gross Floor Area
7,495.73 square metres
Tetsuo Kobori Architects