Pixelated Corners

Ulf Meyer
13. October 2021
North Facade (Photo © Tomoyuki Kusunose)

Tenjin Business Center is a new 640,000-square-foot office complex just completed in Fukuoka, Japan. Designed by Shohei Shigematsu, the building is billed as OMA's first ground-up office building in Japan.

Fukuoka is the biggest city on Kyushu, the westernmost of Japan's four big islands. As part of its urban renewal development along the Meiji-dori, real estate company Fukuoka Jisho asked OMA's New York office to design a major office complex that would get some attention. While the Tenjin Business Center is OMA's first office building in Japan, the Dutch firm is no stranger to the Land of the Rising Sun. Rem Koolhaas designed a housing block, Nexus World Housing, as part of Arata Isozaki's masterplan for Fukuoka in 1991. There is another connection: Ichiro Enomoto, CEO of Fukuoka Jisho, is the son of Kazuhiko Enomoto, the former CEO behind Nexus World Housing.

Corner Plaza at Dusk (Photo © Tomoyuki Kusunose)

Shohei Shigematsu, born in Fukuoka but based in New York, is the OMA partner responsible for the project that follows Nexus World Housing by exactly thirty years. Because OMA is known — and actually proud of — poor detailing, they got help from Maeda Corporation and the giant Japanese architecture firm Nihon Sekkei for the execution of the office building.

Pixelated Corner Street View (Photo © Tomoyuki Kusunose)

The Tenjin Business Center is situated at the intersection of two major roads: Meiji-dori and the Inabacho-dori. The design tries its best to gain momentum from just this fact, with the facade on the corner "excavated" to create numerous corner offices. The clear glass corner is supposed to "reveal the internal activity of the office and draw in public activity at the new entry plaza," per the architects. While this thinking seems a little diagrammatic, the mid-rise tower does merge the smaller human scale with the larger urban scale. 

Lobby Atrium Evening (Photo © Tomoyuki Kusunose)

Inside the carved out corner is a six-story atrium that creates a visual connection between inside and outside and draws natural light down to the lower-level concourse. It is in turn linked to an underground pedestrian, retail, and transit network. 

Office Interior (Photo © Tomoyuki Kusunose)

The corner is calibrated as three-dimensional pixels that break the building's scale. The pixelated facade forms a series of soffit surfaces above, activated with signage and lighting. Setbacks at the opposing upper-level corner provide office interiors with views to Naka River and Hakata Bay as well as green terraces for the tenants. These pixelated corners are reminiscent of the MahaNakhon Tower in Bangkok designed by Ole Scheeren, another Koolhaas disciple active in East Asia. At Tenjin, the two eroded edges round out the building to create a sense of softness.

View from Nakasu (Photo © Tomoyuki Kusunose)

OMA’s tower is the first to be completed under the mayor of Fukuoka's Big Bang initiative that is meant to stimulate the district’s formation as a business hub and incubator for entrepreneurs.

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