In open-plan offices, meeting rooms are usually partitioned via walls and doors to ensure privacy and soundproof. In this 33-year-old office building in Tokyo, formerly used for warehousing and R&D, the space used for meetings, lectures and discussions is divided only by the steel bars.
Designed by Organic Design Architecture, the 150-sq-m corner was renovated to attract new corporate tenants. And also to solve a design problem: to allow the passage of airflow in any corner of the space from the central air conditioning, which is why the firm didn’t go for perforated panels, mesh or louvers, but instead chose rebar.
The project’s title, ReBar, derives from “reinforcing bar,” the steel bars or mesh typically used to strengthen reinforced concrete. Ordinarily rebar is not visible on the surface, but in this project it encloses the space, serving both a functional and design purpose.
The functional role of the ReBar is to allow the energy generated by people lecturing and engaging in discussions in the free space to overflow the translucent steel mesh walls through which people can be both seen and heard. “Our hope is that this inspires and positively impacts the office workers on the rest of the floor,” explains the stuio. The mesh walls also let air and light pass through unobstructed.
The design function of the translucent walls is to connect the various parts of the space into a whole. Against a calming blue background, the white steel bars comprise a deformed inorganic structure that serves as an interactive partition across which the lively intellectual discussions taking place inside can pass. The concept is for this to boost the motivation of everyone on the floor.