Hongkou Soho by Kengo Kuma: 2016 Best of Year Winner for Commercial Building/Lobby
Like a bar at happy hour, packed shoulder-to-shoulder with suits, this part of the city skyline is crowded with what Kengo Kuma calls the “hard, cold, muscular forms” of the typical high-rise office. Which makes Kuma’s addition to the scene all that much more eye-catching. He sheathed the 29-story glass tower in creased panels of aluminum mesh that seem to flutter in the breeze as they refract the shifting sunlight. No staid pinstripes here—he compares the facade to a dress: “By going for a softer image, reminding people of women’s clothes, we thought that the building could offer a place of comfort to the employees inside and to passersby.”
The theme of respite from the urban rush continues in the mixed-use building’s lobby, although here the inspiration shifts from fashion to nature, specifically rippling waves. Louvers made of thin, flexible sheet aluminum, powder-coated white, undulate across the ceiling and down a wall. Another wall is pale gray marble with veining that echoes the wave pattern. The marble’s surface is honed rather than polished “to soften the spatial atmosphere,” he explains. Carefully framed views of the verdant plaza outside complete the therapeutic effect.
Project Team: Tomoyuki Hasegawa; Lin Tz-Li; Chen Wei-Chih; Ryukichi Tatsuki; Ritsuko Ameno; Yu Momoeda; Kim Joenna; Na Young.