NIHON KAGAKU SANGYO General R&D Laboratory

Soka, Saitama
Shigeo Ogawa

Nihon Kagaku Sangyo is a company producing mainly pharmaceutical products.
Their Pharmaceutical Division has 4 plants in Saitama and Fukushima Prefectures.
This project is for the main plant, the Saitama plant, located in Soka City. The aim was to newly build a general R&D laboratory for the Pharmaceutical Division within the factory compound. The Saitama plant faces Ayase River to the west, the elevated highways running through outer Tokyo to the north and residential areas to the east and south. Its compound has many rows of low-rise factory buildings. In consideration of this factory environment comprising of groups of low-rise buildings, this new building has a structure of 3 layers: 2 layers plus a penthouse. Also a special consideration has been given to create an eco-friendly environment for the workers by increasing the green land ratio of the factory compound. In order to make up for a lack of enough greeneries and trees, they were added not only around the building but also on the rooftop.

The function of this building is to serve the R&D Division as well as the Administration Division belonging to the entire plant. These two divisions do not need to be functionally related, but are nevertheless physically connected in the middle of the building by pilotis and an outdoor terrace, together with two separate entrances. As a result, a laboratory with two different functions, features a united surface.

The progress of pharmaceutical products advances quite rapidly each day and
each month, and the R&D has to keep up the pace. For this purpose, the Laboratory is required to update and change the machineries quickly and smoothly. That is why, with this project, the building structure itself is built with long-lasting concrete, but all machineries are placed along the exterior walls, for making it possible to dismantle, renew and change them anytime. This system allows machineries to be updated from the exterior wall side, even when the Laboratory is in full operation.

This is executed by installing two layers of exterior walls, minimum amount of RC walls and partitions inside, covering with a semi-transparent outer layer of polycarbonate material, then designating the outdoor gap, between the double walls, as the space for installing machineries. This way, machineries can be renewed anytime.

Furthermore, the building is now functionally divided north and south, into two divisions. But is also designed in a way that the surface feature can be changed in the future. Except for the permanent concrete structure, the rest are made of semi-transparent industrial materials, such as polycarbonate for exterior walls, grating for work floors and steel mesh for ceilings. All these details can be attached to the main structure, thus making the surface feature of this architecture renewable, on top of the easy renewal of machineries.

While the first and second floors are the building space specializing in R&D functions, the penthouse on the third floor is dedicated as R&R space for the workers in the plant. When they climb up to this floor, they will be looking down on the factories that they work in and thereby giving them a time to detach themselves from work. The greening plan for the rooftop intentionally mixes different kinds of small trees, with an image of recreating a nostalgic field with lines of orange trees, stretching north and south. The sound walls along the highway may be visible now. But in a few years, they will be hidden among the greeneries, leaving only a rooftop garden of greens, oranges and blue sky in sight.