Kengo Kuma's projects are known for their puzzling and multi-faceted effects and his latest project, Green Cast, is no exception. The mixed-use building in Odawara, Japan features a living facade made with aluminum die-cast panels that act as planters. Equipment to keep the vertical garden alive is hidden behind the panels and the result is a striking building that at once looks both old and in a state of biodegradation as though the plants are taking over.
Completed in the summer of 2011, the five story building provides space for a shop, a clinic, offices and a private residence. The basement and ground floor are used for parking, a pharmacy and a street side clinic. The next two floors provide space for offices and a vocational school. Then the fourth floor is a private 2 bedroom residence with access to a private rooftop terrace.
The facade, with its collage of planters, is certainly the most interesting aspect of the project. The prefabricated aluminum die-cast planters made in a monoblock casting are arranged to shield the interior from overheating, but still allow natural daylight and ventilation to pass through. Irrigation equipment, including watering hoses, air reservoir for ventilation and downpipes are installed behind the panels so that the façade can accommodate a comprehensive system for the building. The panels are slanted slightly and the surface is made to feel organic with little holes all over to give the idea of decayed styrene foam.
Images ©Daici Ano