Occupying an upper floor of a tower in the Wakashiba district of Kashiwa, Japan, ‘KOIL’ (Kashiwa-no-ha Open Innovation Lab) provides a place for companies and individuals to work toward their creative ambitions. Designed by Naruse Inokuma Architects, the project is intended to support entrepreneurial start-ups, promote enterprise developments, and stimulate the country’s economic activities. The non-traditional office environment fuses various programmatic elements, including open work areas, shops for manufacturing, conference rooms, cafés, and relaxation spaces.
By hosting a variety of work spaces and functions, KOIL allows its users to choose which type of environment is appropriate for each individual. The complex acts as a miniature city, where various activities and events occur simultaneously. This condition necessitates shared areas prompts communication among constituents, thus promoting an open flow of ideas. The flexibility of the arrangement is in clear contrast to typical office design of the 20th century, which is characterized as uniform and top-down.
To enhance an unbiased and open atmosphere, and avoid visual associations, many walls are left unfinished, with ductwork often exposed along the ceilings. Simple materials are otherwise used, including cement and plaster boards, wood flooring, and plastic or rubber tiles. The mix of activities intersect at a central public zone, featuring shifting ceiling heights and diverse color temperatures of lights. Mobile furniture allows work areas to reconfigure based on the users’ needs.
Photography by Masao Nishikawa