Yesterday, we saw a remarkable new festival hall in rural Austria and I wondered why it had to be black. Today, we’re looking at a new research building called Spiralab in Tokyo that I’m pretty sure has to be white. Research buildings are a bit peculiar because they seem to need a lot of specific spatial arrangements, they have to accomodate tons of specialized equipment, but they also require flexible spaces as scientific tools and research technologies evolve. This new research lab has an additional conundrum to deal with: earthquakes.
KINO Architects conceived the project as a linear arrangement that has been folded sideways, up, over, and down to create a kind of broken, angular loop. The exterior is finished in neutral grey concrete and metal panels, but the interior spaces are mostly white. The lightness here is probably an attempt to make the angular windows and columns more netural; to unify a space that has a lot of different gestures happening. And it appears to have to have worked. Even though it’s empty, it’s an exciting built project that’s ready to accomodate the chemists that will soon load the building with the tools of their trade.