Showa Sekkei, founded in 1957, is a multidisciplinary architecture firm based in Japan. Known for its multifaceted perspective, it offers services ranging from architectural planning and design to urban infrastructure and services.
Osaka City University (also known as Osaka Metropolitan University) is located in Sumiyoshi-Ku, Osaka. Being one of the oldest and top research universities in Japan, the campus keeps growing and advancing its infrastructure over time. As part of a project to improve the science department and lack of earthquake resistance, Showa Sekkei was commissioned for the construction of the new Science building, and renovation along with the anti-earthquake reinforcements for the existing Science Faculty building. (“Osaka City University Science School – Projects”)
Construction Management: Showa Sekkei
Supervision: Tohata Architects
Construction: Toda Construction
Completion: March 2015 (including CM work)
Osaka City University Science School New Building (total floor area)- 11,978.98㎡
Concept of the science building
The Faculty of Science building is the home to the OCU Advanced Research Institute for Natural Science and Technology, where research is conducted on urban environmental and energy problems. The aim was to develop an architectural plan to enhance flexibility as an experimental facility. The facility plan considered the relationship with the surrounding existing buildings and areas. The environment-friendly facilities included eco-construction of the new building, eco-renovation of the existing buildings by conserving resources, and implementing improved environmental performances.
Construction in Phases
The Science Faculty building(new building) was constructed in two phases from 2010 to 2014. The existing old building was demolished before the construction of the New building. (“Science Building and Zelkova Street Construction Completed!”)
Phase 1 (Building C) is a Steel-reinforced concrete（partly steel framed） building with 7 floors above ground and a basement floor, totaling up to a floor area of 7089sq.m. Phase 1 was constructed in the courtyard and on the demolished site
Phase 2, consists of two reinforced concrete buildings. Building A with a total floor space of 3,232 sq. m is 3 floors above ground, a basement floor, and a rooftop mechanical floor. (Mechanical Floor Area is the floor area within a building or structure used exclusively for accommodating mechanical equipment necessary to physically operate the building).(“Mechanical Floor Area Definition”) Building B, 3 story RCC structure with a total floor space of 1,657 sq. m. Both buildings are connected by a pedestrian bridge.
The floor plates were constructed of precast concrete slabs without girders (flat slabs). In addition to this, a temporary research building was also constructed a little farther away from the Faculty of Science building. “The buildings were retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.” (“Osaka City University Science School Design – Projects”)
Steps of construction
The construction of the science faculty building was carried out in 3 stages (“Osaka City University Graduate School of Science”)
- New building phase 1 and construction of temporary facilities
Construction, Rock processing renovation, soil pollution survey, relocating fixtures, and warehouse removal
- New building phase II
Interior renovation of the existing building, removal of drainage facilities, and equipment relocation.
- Earthquake-resistant renovation of the existing building
Repairing facilities in existing buildings, equipment relocation, and redecoration of buildings.
The main entrance of the building faces the west to the landscaped plaza (Zelkova square in the campus plan), planted with trees that give out cherry blossom flowers during spring, letting the campus get much lighter amidst the concrete buildings. “The main approach on the west side of the building has a modern, open design suitable for a school”. (“Full-Scale Construction Will Start In…”) The service lines (exhaust routes) tending to the laboratories face the courtyard, thereby hidden from access and approach views.
The functional spaces include laboratories and classrooms. Other spaces include an exhibition space, refreshment spaces, a new entrance hall, breakout spaces, and an outdoor terrace for formal discussions as well as informal gatherings. The entry and breakout spaces maintain transparency in their nature contrary to that of laboratories hence bringing a balance within the building.
The double-height entrance lobby is partly open to the breakout spaces. The motif of the huge installation on the lobby wall is a ‘spontaneous breaking of symmetry’. “The arrows standing out in the opposite direction represent the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking, as discovered by the late professor Yoichiro Nambu”. (osakametuniv_en)
Planning of Laboratories
The labs in this building were established to promote project research using an open laboratory system. In an open-concept laboratory, researchers share bench space and equipment. “The utilities are distributed from the ceiling, and connected to the bench or workstation. Interchangeable, modular laboratory workstations on wheels allow the workstations to be moved and rearranged easily, promoting flexibility and encouraging different research groups to collaborate”. (Elford). An open system helps reduce the overall costs of the infrastructure as the equipment and the bench space are shared. The outdoor units or the technical balconies, (as shown in the unit plan) are partially covered with steel panels as a part of the façade treatment
- osakametuniv_en. “Osaka Metropolitan University on Instagram: the Wall at the Entrance of the Graduate School of Science at Our Sugimoto Campus…” Instagram, Aug. 2021, www.instagram.com/p/CSdwpInJhFM/.
- “Osaka City University Science School – Projects.” Www.showa-Sekkei.co.jp, 2014, www.showa-sekkei.co.jp/jp/project/fine3?id=268&p=3.
- “Science Building and Zelkova Street Construction Completed!” Osaka City University, Jan. 2014, www.osaka-cu.ac.jp/en/news/2013/science-building-construction-and-zelkova-street-completion.
- “Mechanical Floor Area Definition.” Law Insider, 2015, www.lawinsider.com/dictionary/mechanical-floor-area
- “Full-Scale Construction Will Start In…” Osaka City University, 2010, www.osaka-cu.ac.jp/ja/news/2010/784.
- Elford, Alice. “Open vs Closed Laboratory Design.” Www.linkedin.com, Nov. 2020, www.linkedin.com/pulse/open-vs-closed-laboratory-design-alice-elford/.
- “New Building Projects on OCU Campus – Introduction of the New Education and Research Facilities.” Osaka City University, Dec. 2011, www.osaka-cu.ac.jp/en/news/2011/20111214-01.
- “Osaka City University Graduate School of Science.” Www.sci.osaka-Cu.ac.jp, 2021, www.sci.osaka-cu.ac.jp/now/newbldg.html.