Emptiness or sky?

19 Feb 2010

Suzuki Design Network's new building for Kyoto Seika University takes inspiration from Japanese philosophy

'Ku', a Japanese word, means emptiness or sky. "At the beginning, 'Ku' exists.Architecture would be built to cause the emergence of 'Ku' as the visible."This is the 'plot' that Takayuki Suzuki first wrote for this architecture."Emptiness of mind is needed when students seek truth.Sky is needed when students dream for the future."

Kyoto Seika University was established in 1968. It was a small school that had only about 200 students but now has grown up to have over 4,000 students in 4 faculties; Art, Design, Manga, and Humanities. The main building acts as a 'head office', which was built at the early stage of the history, but became old and too small. In 2007, the board began to plan a new main building.

People would see the main building as the 'face' of the university, and students are first greeted by the expression of this 'face'. Invited by this expression, they would enter the building and then experience the 'story' of emptiness and sky. Suzuki designed the building around the themes 'expression and 'experience'.

The expression is designed not in an arbitrary way, but takes its form from the surrounding environment. The architect tried to draw many lines according to the surroundings of the site and then create the shape by connecting the crossing points made by these lines. "The first lines that I drew were for dragging sky into the building. These lines made a void shaped as a big tower. This void has no scenery, only a vision of the sky. It has no function. There is only emptiness."

Surrounding the emptiness, many lines were drawn to make the outline of the building. A huge triangle emerged as the façade, designed with glass so that students can see office workers and other students inside of the building, and at the same time they will find the landscape and themselves reflected on the glass. This is the expression on the 'face' of the school.

Just after entering the building, students will look up and have a vision of the sky at the top of the void. They may go up stairs to seize the sky. Staircases are impressively coloured red or blue with the light from the sky. When they reach the highest floor, they will find atop the tower a rock in a Japanese traditional garden and a view over the west of the mountains nearby.

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