Last week Riken Yamamoto won the competition to design a billion-dollar mixed use complex at the Zürich Airport called the Circle. I only recently came across Riken Yamamoto's work when, namely the Namics Techno Core (Oct 2008)- it strikes me for several reasons. First of all the lightness of the organic mushroom like structure which seems to grow from the enclosed ground level. This leads to the second reason: the clear division of functions between the ultra clean lab spaces on ground level and the completely open 2nd and 3rd floors.
[Image: Employee and visitors' level and roof garden of Namics Techno Core by Riken Yamamoto/ Photo by Koichi Satake]The last reason is the always astonishing Japanese accuracy in building - The structure was completed in mere 13 months and is made from prefabricated concrete elements by the contracting Taisei Corporation. Arup Japan did the structural engineering. Actually the JA 76 Yearbook 2009 states that it is a steel frame structure in which case the concrete is cladding - and still outstanding. Sigh!
It does, however make sense to work with the structure as a continuous surface - a shell structure with very narrow load bearing points. I've seen renderings from the architect of this structural system as a high rise - which brings a 1954 competition entry by Jørn Utzon to mind, the Langelinie Pavilion in Copenhagen. Where the Yamamoto project stacks clusters of funnels of varying top diameters and needle thin bottoms, really quite similar to Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax Building (1936), Utzon's project is a tower with a core and glass facadea floating down the edges of the stacked plates as one big water fountain.
[Image: Clusters of lily-pad columns outside the Johnson Wax Building by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1936 ]
[Image: concept model of the Langelinje pavillion by Jørn Utzon, 1954]
[Image: perspective sketch of the interior of the Langelinje pavillion by Jørn Utzon, 1954. The window detail is close to identical to the solution at Namics]
As is my experience with many Asian architects I have a difficult time to get much from a Google search. So, here's a link to a nice and reflected blog post which refers to a Riken Yamamoto lecture and a few more, nice projects.
And here's a link to the next post with a few more lily-columns and suspended concrete surfaces.