30.04.2000

University in Saitama, Japan

Situated on the edge of Tokyo among housing developments and rice fields, the university complex consists of two parallel building tracts, containing laboratories and seminar rooms, with a platform area between them. Incised into the platform are a number of courtyards that allow light to enter the seminar rooms on the level below. These sunken planted courts and the service and access cubes on top of the platform adopt the scale of the surrounding housing. An orthogonal network of wood-paved walkways dissects the grassed areas of the platform to link the flanking building tracts. Access to these 200-metre-long strips is via four-storey “media galleries”, which open on to the intermediate platform in the form of broad glazed facades. Glazed partitions between the seminar spaces continue this sense of transparency through the entire building. In view of the large areas of glazing and the hot climate, the roof lights were also fitted with shading louvres in order to reduce operating costs and the consumption of energy for cooling. Ventilation openings along theeaves of the long faces allow air to enter the space between the suspended soffit and the roof glazing. Cross-ventilation occurs at the level of the Vierendeel girders when the outlets on the opposite side are open. In winter, when the sunshading is drawn back and the ventilation openings are closed, passive energy gainsare exploited, and the warm air in the roof space is fed down into the building via glazed ducts.
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