Sonobe SD Office

Sonobe-cho, Kyoto
Hiroyuki Hirai

This office building is situated in Sonobe, Kyoto Prefecture, a city with a long and rich history. The center of the city is still pervaded by a nostalgic atmosphere, and it takes no more than a 15-minute walk to be among fields and paddies, interspersed with farm houses. The site for the SD office is located in the outskirts of Sonobe, where the city environment merges into this typically Japanese rural landscape. In planning this project, I had to decide how to interpret the relationship between the surrounding area and the urban context. In other words, what was required of me was an architectural solution to the complex situation of unspoiled nature on the one hand, and the waves of urban erosion on the other.
This means, of course, that particular attention needed to be paid to the planning of the external space. The most appropriate solution, was to stress the spatial continuity of the site and its surroundings, and to dramatize the relationship between internal and external space of the building. The building has three stories – one under ground level, and two above – with most of the total space taken up by an office on ground level with a 7.3m high ceiling. The dominant sides of the building are the north and south facades, running parallel to the streets in front of them. Both sides have glass walls, and a clear-cut north-south axis established between them. Basically, the flow runs parallel to this axis, but occasionally, it intersects it. The overall approach leads from an entirely open space featuring nature to a semi-closed space, and from there, to the interior space of the building. This sequence of sceneries mirrors the continuous transition from the center of the city to its outskirts. By extending the sequence of sceneries to the very interior of the site, the building is firmly positioned in the context of urban and natural environment.