Kyoto-Kagaku Research Institute

Kizu-cho, Kyoto
Hiroyuki Hirai

This building is located in the center of a new business park in Kansai Science City, which is being established in the hills of the Kyoto-Osaka-Nara area. Research conducted in this building centers on the development of restoration and reconstruction techniques for Buddhist statues and excavated cultural treasures. The site is an almost perfectly flat rectangle with a long north-south axis. There is a 3 m difference in ground level between the north and south ends of the site.
I first considered how these natural features might be best used and integrated into my design concept. Eventually, I arrived at the solution that can be seen today, in which the main approach to the institute is on the south side and gives access to the building’s second floor; a secondary (service and delivery) entrance is provided on the ground floor on the north side.
The ground floor -which can also be considered the basement, depending on the observer’s point of view – is organized by means of only concrete walls running east to west and north to south, as well as the natural difference in ground level. The building was completed by adding a steel-frame construction on top of this ground floor.
The outdoor features – the approach, the terrace on the upper-floor level, the green slope of the front garden, the terraced concrete structure of the outdoor exhibition space, and the central courtyard in the north – are self-sufficient yet at the same time related to one another. On the whole, I placed mutually independent research offices into the expanse and sequence of a varied outdoor space. I chose this concept as I imagined that contact with nature and the seasons would be particularly meaningful to technical specialists whose work on centuries-old Buddhist statues continuously makes them aware of the gap in time separating them from the carvers who created the statues.