This high-rise headquarters for Yamano – Japan’s best-known cosmetics company and beauty school– combines a residential tower, corporate offices, classrooms and laboratories, and a 2000 seat auditorium.
Bounded on one side by a commuter rail line, and entered from a narrow eight-meter right-of-way, the site itself challenged the conventions of high-rise design. As a result, the design was "carved" into three separate masses, as determined by its permitted envelope and solar access vectors. The school wing is clad with an irregular geometry of faceted glass, which allows passing commuters a glimpse of classroom activities, while the tower is clad in a reflective dot pattern to produce a moiré pattern.
The Yamano School offers courses ranging from kimono wrapping and the tea ceremony to practical training for a professional career in beauty. In their design for the Yamano School, Hodgetts + Fung sought to craft a building that would be a thoroughly contemporary expression of globalism, while still referring to the uniquely Japanese cultural model that forms the basis of the Yamano aesthetic.
The design was informed by the assembly of materials to create meaningful patterns, and is especially inspired by the Asian custom of exhibiting the fastenings, elements, and contours of each contributing material. These rich tapestries, created by the orderly use of otherwise humble components, contribute greatly to the experience of the visitor.
The design reflects HplusF’s pursuit of architecture responsive to the imperatives of place, culture, and even gender. The approach to the Yamano complex was consciously sensuous rather than technological, yielding an ensemble of forms that departed the idiom characteristic of modern high-rise projects in favor of forms that are softly folded in nature—hinting at the construction of a classical kimono.