People of Takenaka
Practicing environmental design that connects cities and people
Hiroki Kanto
Design Department, Osaka Main Office
Practicing environmental design that connects cities and people
Encounter with environmental architecture

When I entered university, I chose the humanities department. However, when I visited Northern Europe for international exchange, some works by the Finnish architect, Alva Aalto, whose designs were representative of the 20 century, made a deep impression on me, so I decided to major in architecture. In Scandinavian architecture such as the designs by Aalto, natural light is actively incorporated into rooms, and wood from local areas is used for interiors, making spaces warm both visually and physically. It was then after experiencing architecture based on the seasons and climate of Northern Europe that I became interested in "environmental design."

Aalto memorial auditorium

Aalto memorial auditorium

Studio Aalto

Studio Aalto

At the university laboratory, I learned about measurement technology for building environments and design using environmental simulations. First, I would measure temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc. in various areas and buildings. Then, based on data for what I felt was comfortable, I would research target environments. Even now, I am in the habit of always walking around with a thermometer and a thermal camera to take actual measurements, which I jokingly refer to this as an occupational illness. In addition, I learned design techniques connected to architectural forms and planning by applying these research results to environmental simulations and making the best use of indoor and outdoor environmental conditions.

Measurements with a thermal camera

Measurements with a thermal camera

Practicing environmental design

In my second year at the company, I was in charge of designing medical-related development and exhibition facilities, and I had the opportunity to practice exterior design using environmental simulations. Since the original design was for an exterior with a glass curtain wall, solar radiation would have entered rooms directly, and the environmental load would have been high Therefore, I proposed an exterior with vertical plates (louvers) attached outside to prevent direct sunlight from entering rooms, while I tried to achieve an open facility that took in natural light indirectly. I performed environmental simulations with conditions being the surrounding environment, such as movement of the sun and surrounding buildings, and I derived optimal solutions for randomly arranging louvers. When the building was completed, I felt a sense of accomplishment because I had been able to realize an environmental design that I had been working on since my student days.

Changes in exterior design by simulation

Changes in exterior design by simulation

Exterior of completed building,Randomly arranged louvers

Exterior of completed building

Randomly arranged louvers

Aiming for environmental design at the urban level

As a designer at Takenaka Corporation, one of the things that I have taken great pride in is that our company has been contributing to society by always practicing environmental design that meets the needs of our times.
Before World War II, Koji Fujii, an architect at our company, applied some environmental architecture, which was cutting-edge for its time, in the design of his own house, "Chochikukyo," in Kyoto. There he used passive methods that made good use of natural breezes such as incorporating attic ventilation and underground cold air.

Even now, with "Abeno Harukas," which was based on a concept for a superhigh-rise densely populated confluent city, we worked toward an environmental design that made good use of characteristics for multiple applications such as offices and hotels and commercial space. This included use of hot water from air conditioning exhaust heat and biomass power generation.

Chochikukyo

Chochikukyo

Abeno Harukas

Abeno Harukas

As quality of life changes in the future with the addition of new technologies such as VR and AI, robotics and electronics, I think the needs required by people for environmental architecture will become more sophisticated and diversified. In the midst of such social changes, I would like to practice environmental design that not only allows people who use buildings to live comfortably but also allows for the people in surrounding communities and cities to do the same.