Mathematics meets medicine meets fashion. What a poetic idea to bring together these three disciplines in the midst of Shinju-ku, a neighbourhood of buildings that are often austere, mute, and secret. Architecture is the petrifaction of a moment of culture. It must express itself through symbols, and, more than ever, with confidence in the future that it helps create.
The building belongs to the neighbourhood while expressing its uniqueness. Like most of its neighbors it wears a gray suit. The suit dresses a well-proportioned rectangular block in a vibrant skin made of deep, gray moveable blades that let in the sun or provide shade depending on orientation. The facade is like a sort of Venetian blind on the scale of Tokyo, but very solid.
The building rises from the thickness of the ground. It is surrounded by a void that brings light into a lower level occupied by shops. Penetrating into the shop area, one discovers a spectacular central space which reveals that the building is in fact not a monolith at all, but three buildings of different natures. Only the exterior shell is common. Through the cracks in the shell appear three architectures that observe and dialogue with each other each other in close proximity. One immediately understands who is who. The mathematician wears a structure of transparent crystals discretely marked with figures and formulae; the doctor mixes chemical white with planted green structures that evoke living cells; the fashion designer wears a cape that undulates and titillates the eye with glowing colors. Light enters this world open to the sky through three cracks nearly 100 meters high. Seen from outside, the interior world is mysterious, enigmatic. Curiosity creates desire to discover what is happening in there, what is being said in this three-way encounter.
STATUS Unbuilt. 2004
LOCATION 1-7-3 Nishi shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japon
ARCHITECTURAL TEAM Jean NOUVEL - Ateliers Jean Nouvel
LOCAL ARCHITECT Obayashi
PROJECT LEADER Toshihiro KUBOTA
ARCHITECTS Junichi YOKOBORI (Obayashi ), Stefan MATTHYS, Frederic BERTHIER, Christian BRIMMER
3D IMAGES Artefactory, Toshihiro Kubota
CONTRACT TYPE Competition, façade design
PROGRAM Private University with 3 campus (fashion, information technology, medicine), entrance hall, auditoriums, retail, parking and technical spaces
USABLE FLOOR AREA 67 200 m²
Fashion: 9 000 m²
Information Technology: 12 000 m²
Medecine: 12 000 m²
Auditoriums and entrance hall: 10 200 m²
Retail: 9 600 m²
Parking & technical spaces:14 400 m²