How a wooden cross makes this Japanese workspace more flexible

TOKYO – Flexible spaces are the future, be it in retail, hospitality, or residences – and densely populated cities are leading the trend, moving away from functional limitations of single-purpose rooms.

Led by Yusuke Oono, Domino Architects gave creative agency COOOP3 a war room with a wooden cross in the middle of the floor, which may sound ominous to Game of Thrones fans, but serves a practical purpose for the harmony and collaboration of the employees here.

Applying a mixture of technology and traditional Japanese woodwork, Domino Architects designed the portable partition system as a modern answer to Japanese sliding screens. The wooden base takes the shape of a horizontal cross in the centre of the room, with grooves in each arm for the insertion of variable panels according to need. Constructed from thick, heavy pinewood beams – used as the main columns in traditional Japanese wooden houses – traditional Japanese carpentry techniques were applied to the assembly and detailing of the wooden base.

In an advertising agency, the war room is a command centre to discuss, plan, and present ideas and solutions for brands. In COOOP3, the wooden cross divides the open lounge area into four sections to accommodate different teams that each require dedicated space for short, intense meetings. Because the number of active projects at any one time is greater than the amount of available space in the war room, Domino devised an operational system that allows each team to ‘own’ portable polycarbonate whiteboard panels.

The whiteboard panels can then be slotted into the grooves in the wooden base to temporarily create a dedicated space for the teams, and removed once their session is finished. The tables and stools of the war room were also intentionally designed high in order for people to stand up easily, facilitating movement and encouraging people to approach the wall to actively participate in the discussion.

Throughout the interior, the architects chose to use materials such as wood, copper and linoleum because of the way they age; becoming smoother and more refined with time and wear. Given the nature of this multifunctional space, it is imperative that the design elements be able to withstand continuous use.

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