The Nicolas G. Hayek Center is the new headquarters for the Swatch Group located in the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo, Japan. Architect Shigeru Ban was challenged to design a building that incorporated retail space for seven different high end watch brands on the confined, dense urban site and the interesting solution is the portion of the building in which I chose to focus my study. The ground floor of the fourteen story building displays each of the seven brands individually in a glass encased kiosk. The kiosk serves double purpose as both a mini window display and transforms into a personal elevator to take shoppers to the main showroom on another level of the building. My investigation of these means of vertical movers progressed into an axonometric drawing of the retail floors in the building to help visualize and distinguish the animated quality at work. The first four floors above ground are dedicated to retail and have the ability to be open air via large sliding glass doors on both front and rear facades. This allows the building to blur a boundary between interior and exterior. Another element of interior and exterior blur is a large garden is built onto one wall, extending vertical four floors in the main atrium space.
The axonometric drawing below illustrates the seven individual different elevators moving through multiple floors. The distribution of people and vehicles through the building occurs at varying scales. Everything, either people or cars, enter on the ground floor. The first subfloor is retail, and the second subfloor is a parking garage. The three floors above are also retail and atrium/garden space. The elevators are in constant flux, animating and adjusting to the users as they interact with it. The building has also adapted to the urban fabric environment of the city.
My investigations into this building have helped me to clarify some of my interests about the programmatic elements I want to pursue with my degree project, such as a concentration of vertical circulation, and dense urban fabric environments.
* photographs taken from www.shigerubanarchitects.com *