A lively professional space, in close dialogue with the surrounding natural environment and made dynamic by fluid interaction among colleagues: this was the vision that inspired Kajima Design Studio in the design of the new headquarters of Sigma, a leading Japanese company in the field of photographic optics.
An inspiration that was built - in just two years - in Kawasaki, in an industrial area surrounded by greenery, a stone's throw from Shinkōji Park.
The architectural complex rises at the back of a hill and consists of three parts: two white-colored elements connected by a dark monolith. Inside the brighter blocks is where corporate life takes place, not only in the offices but also in the laboratories, darkrooms and photo exhibition rooms.
The dark-colored block, on the other hand, is a space that chronicles Sigma's innovations in technology and design, with a museum-like layout.
The building truly seems to live in symbiosis with its natural surroundings and seasons, thanks in part to the landscape design work, construction and maintenance by Green Wise. In spring, the cafeteria building has a view of cherry blossoms, in fall, yellow color of chestnut-leaved oaks celebrates the landscape, while the entire building is traversed by green corridors and patios. Even its main facade of mirror-brushed aluminum seems to dematerialize in its embrace with nature.
Similarly, sustainability features prominently in Kajima Design's construction choices, which favored precast and prefabricated structures to make the building more streamlined and environmentally friendly.
A sustainable building also in terms of energy, thanks to a photovoltaic system that meets the needs of the entire building and powers the electric charging stations in the parking lot.
The rooftop garden, created to promote thermal insulation by reusing residual earth after excavation, is in line with these solutions.
The intimate relationship between architecture and natural surroundings also guided the interior design project, created by architect Riccardo Daniel in collaboration with Arper.
"The light colors of the offices and common areas-from plaster to wall coverings-are enlivened by the palette of the furnishings: a mix of neutral tones and shades of green in the meeting areas and open spaces, with counterpoints in bright, autumnal tones in the recreational spaces.
Arper collections become sparks of color, whose nuances identify the intended use and atmosphere of a space," says the architect.
The synergy that was created between Sigma and Arper with this project is also due to Ichiro Iwasaki, creative director of the Japanese company and creator of several of the Italian company's collections.
"Since I have a deep knowledge of both Sigma and Arper, I had an active role as a supervisor in this project," Ichiro says. "Right from the start, I felt that these spaces needed to support the daily activities of the people who work for Sigma. These people focus every day on microscopic details, those of the precision devices produced by the company. "Concentration" and "relaxation" are thus the two thematic strands that alternate in this new location, depending on the intended use of each area. And the same logic guided the selection of the furniture that also needed to convey the Arper spirit, which in a word I would call “Arperness” into this context," Ichiro concludes.
Indeed, the lines of the furnishings redesign the volumes of the interiors, with their important heights, bringing space back to a human and dynamic dimension that encourages interaction and sharing.
An orientation also present in the idea of the "open desk," proposed by Arper and embraced with conviction by CEO Yamaki Kazuto, which encourages living the office in a more active and lively way.
This is a revolutionary stance not only for Sigma, but for Japanese companies in general, demonstrating how the concept of a space can influence not only the lives of those who inhabit it, but also the very idea of that environment, the conventions and atmosphere it evokes.
Architectural design: Kajima Design
Construction company: Kajima Corp.
Landscape design: Green Wise
Interior design: Riccardo Daniel, Kajima Design
Sigma Creative director: Ichiro Iwasaki
Photographer: Lamberto Rubino
Arper products: Adell, Arcos, Babar, Catifa 46, Catifa Up, Catifa 80, Cila, Cross, Dizzie, Duna 02, Gher, Kiik, Kinesit, Leaf, Meety, Nuur, Pix, Planesit, Ply, Song, Stacy, Steeve, Wim