Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower, Tokyo

Turning the traditional horizontal configuration for school design literally on its side by projecting it vertically, the Cocoon tower presents an incredible case-study for creating a university in the sky. Not only is the organization of the spaces both radical and logical, the resulting aesthetic is quite startling. The separation of classrooms in plan to allow the creation of interstitial lounges is a very clever solution, bringing a vital mix of larger-scale spaces into the building. However the way that this changing plan is resolved into 3-dimensional form is perhaps the greatest achievement architecturally. One has to study the plan and mass for some time to understand how this has been achieved.

Mode Gakuen have shown they are at the forefront of radically changing our limited perception of what functions can be accommodated in a tall building. They are literally pioneering with program, to spectacular effect. Those charged with creating our cities of the future should stand up and take note.

Mode Gakuen have shown they are at the forefront of radically changing our limited perception of what functions can be accommodated in a tall building. They are literally pioneering with program, to spectacular effect. Those charged with creating our cities of the future should stand up and take note.
 Figure 1. Tower withing the context of the city of Tokyo

The design of Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower offers a new solution for school architecture in Tokyo’s tightly meshed urban environment. A new typology for educational architecture, the tower and accompanying auditoriums successfully encompass environmental concerns and community needs with an inspirational design. Figure 2. Building entry Literally a vertical campus, the tower accommodates approximately 10,000 students across the three vocational schools sharing the building. These include: the fashion school Tokyo Mode Gakuen; HAL Tokyo, an information and technology school; and Shuto Iko, a medical welfare school. Mode Gakuen operates all three. The low-rise building, an intriguing egg-shaped structure adjacent to the high-rise tower, houses two major auditoriums. The halls are used for school, as well as public, functions. With approximately one thousand seats, the auditoriums bring to the area a wide and exciting mix of cultural events. The high-rise tower floor plan is simple; three rectangular classroom areas rotate 120 degrees around the inner core. From the 1st to the 50th floor, these rectangular classroom areas are arranged in a curvilinear form.  The inner core consists of elevators, staircases and shafts. To ease the potential congestion that might be caused by vertical movement, the three schools are laid out in three parts of the building; lower tier, middle tier and upper tier.

Figure 3. Low-rise auditorium

Unlike a typical horizontally laid out school campus, the limited size of the site challenged the architects to develop a new typology for educational architecture. Student lounges are located between the classrooms, facing three directions; east, southwest and northwest. Each atrium lounge is three-stories high and offers sweeping views of the surrounding cityscape. As new types of schoolyards, these innovative lounges offer students a comfortable place to relax and communicate.

 

Figure 4. View up from south

Figure 5. Building entry and plaza

The tower is designed specifically with the environment in mind. This includes a cogeneration system, installed within the building, that produces about 40% of the structure’s power and thermal energy. This greatly increases the building’s operational efficiency and decreases energy costs. It also reduces potential greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The elliptic shape allows for even distribution of sunlight, thereby limiting heat radiation to the surrounding area. The shape also ensures that it aerodynamically disperses strong wind streams; an important issue in this high rise district that attracts large and potentially damaging gusts of wind.

Read original article at CTBUH.

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