Offices are terrible places, if for no other reason than they pull us from the sunlight and greenery that’s proven to make us happier and healthier. A new, 11-story building in Tokyo called Kojimachi Terrace wants to change that by bringing the outside in, and the inside out.
With both an interior and exterior crafted by the Japanese design firm Nendo, Kojimachi Terrace is a corporate-leasable space that features the liberal use of a simulated wood finish and planted greenery throughout. All lighting is indirect, bouncing from the floor and ceiling to create a refreshing glow instead of baking you under top-down fluorescent lighting. The walls and ceilings were plastered by hand rather than machines, so they have an uneven, organic-feeling finish.
Balconies were built on most floors and can be exposed to open air or closed off with glass doors. The safety rails on the terraces, which would generally be some metallic eyesore, are camouflaged, because they’ve been built in the same durable, faux wood material and proportions as the inner and outer facade. Through these simple design decisions, the rails look like frames instead of fences.
The pièce de résistance, however, is the office’s Sky Forest. It’s a three-story nature escape for the building’s employees, a place where people can take their “nature pill” without ever going outside. That’s particularly valuable in a city like Tokyo, which features roughly a third of the green space of New York City when averaged by landmass.
Kojimachi Terrace is not the biggest or best funded building opening in the next year. But as we continue to break down the walls of cubicles and debase the merits of open floor plans, it’s a good reminder that there’s a lot more to being happy, healthy, and productive at work than where or if we sit. The best office is one that resembles nature (albeit with better snacks, proper teleconferencing equipment, and just the right amount of shade to read a screen).