The 82 Bank Learning Center in Nagano (Japan)

 

The 82 Bank Learning Centre, Nagano (Japan)

Crowning a resolutely ecological training centre, zinc roofs define a porous border between the city and nature, fully in line with the convictions expressed by the client, a local bank in this Japanese prefecture.

 

 

 

 

 

Architect: NIKKEN SEKKEI LTD – Mr. Masanori YANO, Ms. Yuka HAGIWARA
Technique: Local solution on the roof, VMZINC® Interlocking panel, Surface aspect: QUARTZ-ZINC®

 

The 1998 Winter Olympics were held in the city of Nagano, in the centre of Japan. As well as being a sports centre, Nagano is the home of the semiconductor industry and the city of origin of the 82 Bank, which claims to be an “ecological bank”. The training centre inaugurated to celebrate the bank’s 82nd anniversary had to reflect this original feature, especially as it is built on a plot adjoining a forest reserve, ensuring the   transition between the urban landscape and the mountains. 

 

 

The project designed by Nikken Sekkei, one of the largest architecture firms in the world, reconciles iconic architecture and environmental respect. Taking the conservation of all existing mature trees on the plot as a starting point, the architects fragmented the centre into two main entities that are identifiable by their roofs: two large sloping rectangular planes with diagonal folds. This zinc roofing stretches down over the facade, defining new limits for urbanisation. Secondary roofing signals the entrance and administrative areas. One of the the two main buildings houses the guest rooms for staff in training. The other accommodates the classrooms. 

 

The forest was not the only element considered to enable the centre to blend harmoniously with its surroundings. As the training courses can start early in the morning and finish late in the evening, the centre is designed to avoid any disturbances for the neighbourhood. Facades facing the neighbouring houses are closed, while those facing the surrounding nature have large windows. This orientation also facilitates cooling by prevalent winds during mid-season. Those sections of the building nearest the residential zone are lower in height, in order to facilitate contextual integration.

 

The buildings have a concrete structure. The zinc skin protects the roof during winter time.  As we can see, the longitudinal joints of the roofing elements are perfectly flat, thanks to a highly specific local technique with joint-covers clipped onto aluminium profiles. This solution strengthens the image of a tight skin and creates the sobriety requested by the client. Reminiscent of origami, the folds on the roof are designed to echo the horizontality of the gutter, despite the slope of the ridge. For the architects, this geometric layout evokes the old training centre, especially the traditional architecture of the house accommodating it.