The HASEKO KUMA HALL has come into being in building number 11 at the School of Engineering of The University of Tokyo. A donation was received from Haseko Corporation for the complete renovation of the existing lecture hall and lounge, and we were in charge of the design.
Our objective was to create an active lecture hall that is open to both the campus and community by utilizing its location which is nearest to the main gate. A large display screen was provided in the lounge that is integral with the ceiling surface, and the lecture hall can be connected with the lounge, making the hall suitable for an “open university”. The term “wooden birdhouse” was used as the concept to integrate both the lecture hall and the lounge, and the results of cutting-edge research by the School of Engineering of The University of Tokyo are displayed in the “birdhouse” in the foyer, making this building a museum as well as a lecture hall, and achieving a moderate level of composite functions that are found in a learning commons.
The motif of a “wood box” was also used for the design of the café called “U-gohan” (Dinner) that faces the second floor of the lounge. This design facilitates interlocking with three-dimensional events, including events where people eat and drink to enhance communication. It is our sincere hope that the HASEKO KUMA HALL be used in the future as a facility to promote education and exchange related to architecture, and that many unexpected uses emerge.
The “U-gohan” café is operated by “YuuYuu”, a social welfare corporation from Tobetsu town in Hokkaido. I saw their farm when I visited Tobetsu recently, and was very impressed by the lively expressions of the people that work there as well as by the freshness of the produce. “U-gohan” café is open from 8:00 a.m. in the morning to 9:00 p.m. in the evening (10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays). In addition to serving delicious breakfasts and lunches, it also welcomes guests other than students and faculty, and has high-quality wine. We hope that you will drop by to try out the delicious ingredients from Hokkaido and experience the ambiance of the space created through the use of wood.
I came back to Tokyo late at night from Tobetsu that was in the middle of a snowstorm with the strong feeling that the HASEKO KUMA HALL will not only become a node for education and creativity, but will also help to enhance the welfare of the people who utilize the facility.