In Fukuoka, the most populated city on Japan’s Kyushu Island, the Acros Fukuoka building rises like a mountain from a central park.
The concept was to create a building that, while man-made, seemed to grow organically from the adjacent green space — which was one of the last of its kind in the city center.
As Japan and the rest of Asia look ahead to save energy, they are turning to the Acros Fukuoka building as a possible blueprint for more efficient urban planning.
The office building — which also houses a symphony hall, international convention center and shopping mall — employs the use of natural light and insulation to save energy.
Studies have shown the areas covered by vegetation on the south side of the building are 10 degrees cooler than concrete areas in the middle of Fukuoka during its intensely humid summer.
The mountain shape also creates a breeze at night which reduces the “heat island” effect of the surrounding area.
An atrium on the south side, together with banks of floor-to-ceiling windows, help reduce energy consumption through the use of raw light, softened by the curtains of vegetation.
Architect Takuji Fukuda explains the building is designed to take advantage not only of the naturally occurring light and insulation, but also rainwater to create a more environmentally friendly office building.
In a post-Fukushima Japan, the nation is undergoing a cultural shift in terms of its energy consumption.
“Everyone is probably saying the same thing — that we are using too much electricity. I think there is no question we do,” he said. “And so, now, we have to save power in Japan.”
Fukuda envisages major cities where natural methods will be increasingly combined with better urban design. Along with the cultural shift, an architectural shift may follow.