What Time Is It In Toyko?
Benjamin Budde -- Interior Design, 1/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
Meet the latest addition to Tokyo's starchitect skyline—the headquarters of the Swatch Group Japan. Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects and named for the entrepreneur who cofounded Swatch in 1983, the Nicolas G. Hayek Center is a 14-story sliver with a footprint of little more than 4,000 square feet. Hydraulic elevator pods at the main entrance recall those at the architect's library for Seikei University. Tables and chairs that greet visitors in the fifth-floor reception area are similar to those housed in his Artek pavilions during Milan's Salone Internazionale del Mobile and Design Miami last year.
Beyond the four-story atrium lobby, every three floors share their own atrium with a plant wall on one side. Shigeru Ban chose the plants for their ability to flourish on the amount of light each atrium receives, so you'll find winter jasmine in the lowest ones and Mexican breadfruit in the highest. The greenery is interrupted only by columns composed of LCD screens that display scrolling information on Tokyo's date and time.
For customer-service reception, Ban and artist Tsutomu Mochizuki dreamed up a giraffe sculpture, a metaphor for the tall, skinny building. Because the 15-foot-high animal is built from five different wood species, its surface will take on a pattern over time. Set your watches.