The 2015 WAN Concrete in Architecture winning project explores new directions with the use of concrete in architectural design.

Exemplifying progressive design that applies cutting-edge 3D technology in the use of concrete, this year’s winner of the WAN Concrete in Architecture Award 2015 shows off the versatility of the material.

The Niigata City Konan Ward Cultural Centre, designed by Chiaki Arai Urban & Architecture Design, intended to tie together a detached library, local museum and community centre and add a multipurpose theatre to the complex. While these four zones each has its own entrance, they are connected by a pleating corridor called the Cross Street, which features diverse expressions of concrete.

Showing off with concrete
Throughout the building, 3D patterns were used to texture the surface of the asymmetrical decorative walls, while solar-powered LED lights highlight these bold concrete expressions. In addition, the concrete polygon structure follows the space and distributes light and air through the complex. This is achieved by fissures in the concrete skin, which acts as a breathing mechanism.

Complementing the uneven wall surfaces is the inconsistent space created by the installation of movable sliding walls. These walls can be moved to create bigger or smaller rooms in order to maximise the limited space. Other individual rooms, such as the music practice room, are vertically nested into the structure.

Multipurpose hall
Inside the 413-seat multipurpose hall, bands of light accentuate the curves of the stepped side walls and ceiling. The side walls are also randomly punctuated with 7 000 circles, with each one either adding light, promoting noise diffusion or absorbing sound.

The stage is configurable and to achieve this, a support mechanism was attached to the concrete structure at the back of the stage, which can add about 3m to the depth of the stage. This configuration makes it possible to convert the otherwise small-scale hall into one that can host large orchestras.

Blending with the landscape
Built on an unlevelled wetland site, the centre’s foundation fills the lower land to level the different building heights and make use of terrestrial heat. The copper-cladded exterior will, over time, be covered with a patina layer that will blend the building with the surrounding rice field.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to World Architecture News, Chiaki Arai Urban & Architecture Design and Arch Daily for the information given to write this article.

Quick facts:
Architects: Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
Location: Niigata, Japan
Area: 5 002m²
Project year: 2012