Scholastic architecture doesn’t get much better than these stunning Mode-Gakuen Spiral Towers in Nagoya, Japan. The shimmering towers corkscrew 36 stories [170 m] above the busy streets of Nagoya, Japan, and house educational facilities for three different disciplines in three tapered ‘wings’ – fashion design, computer programming and a medical support. Architectural group Nikken Sekkei included a host of ecological features in the towers including a double-glassed air flow window system and a natural air ventilation system.
Building green can be a challenge in major metropolitan areas due to significant political, social and practical hurdles; the double-glassed ventilation system in the Spiral Towers is certainly a step in the right direction. Though certainly not new, a typical double-glassed air flow system significantly reduces heating and cooling loads by passing indoor/outdoor air (exhaust air/return air) between two panes of glass. The cavity between the panes typically includes blinds which can be shut according to heating/cooling requirements. It’s a system that has been hugely successful at significantly reducing heating and cooling loads in large buildings and one that continues to spread across the globe.
But how does it stay up? The Spiral Towers appear quite precarious from the street, but their basic structure is simple; a strong inner truss tube acts as a central pillar supporting the three, gently tapering wings. The truss tube is constructed of concrete-filled, steel tubular columns with structural braces affixed around the base and the entire structure is fitted with some of the most robust seismic engineering in the region.
The Spiral Towers are stunning, and the concept behind the design adds yet another layer of beauty. The twisting glass and steel spiral is meant to evoke, “the enthusiasm of students from three schools, twining and rising up to the sky then departing to the real world.” Students from the three schools: Nagoya Mode Gakuen , HAL Nagoya and Nagoya Isen —are sure to benefit from the both the gorgeous design and the green measures that have gone into this great new building.