Kaleidoscopic mirror-finished stainless steel panels
Each triangular panel is different in shape and angle
The kaleidoscopic stainless steel panels as a landmark
■The Kaleidoscope Entrance
At the intersection of Omotesando and Harajuku (Jingumae crossing) stands Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku that opened in 2012. Being one of the most fashion forwarded areas in Tokyo, the building hosts various fashion retailers.
The kaleidoscopic design of this landmark pays homage to the mirror glass-covered ‘central apartment’ that once stood in its place, and the design intent was to reflect the colors and shades of pedestrians as a simile to the particular energy behind the fashion industry. The resulting kaleidoscopic escalator tunnel is made from various tilted mirror-polished stainless-steel panels, and act as a gateway transition into the building.
Kikukawa participated in the stainless-steel construction of this mirrored entrance designed by the world-renowned Hiroshi Nakamura of NAP.
■Kikukawa’s Technology and Quality
In implementing this kaleidoscope, several considerations and solutions were required.
The mirror-polished finish, known as one of the most unforgiving metal finishes, is the root cause of the challenge. The design concept required high-quality mirror-polished finish panels as the reflections were intended to induce the band-wagon effect of people lining up.
The other was in installation. To fully implement the kaleidoscopic effect, each shape and installation angle requirement of the panels were different. Thus the project required expertise and a comprehensive metalworking ability from providing design details to controlling the quality in fabrication and installation.
As an architectural metalworker that satisfies these qualifications, Kikukawa was recommended by the client to be involved in this project.
■Fibre Laser Welding
Mirror-polished stainless-steel panels without any distortion were key to this landmark’s design.
While typical mirror-polished stainless-steel panels are assembled to the backing frames by stud welding the back of the panel and bolting, this detail results in stud marks appearing on the surface of the mirror-polished panels. Thus, projects requiring high quality mirror-polished stainless steel panels opt to use the 5.0mm thick stainless steel.
However, the cost and weight of the 5.0mm panel were an issue for this project. Thus Kikukawa developed and tested a new detail of honeycomb backed 3.0mm thick stainless steel, a detail made possible by the high-quality welding of the fibre laser.
Conventional welding methodologies would have compromised the quality of the mirror-polished stainless steel to ensure the necessary strength of the panels. By using fibre laser welding, a technology that achieves high strength and minimal heat-induced deformation and discoloration, and carefully selecting the welding areas, Kikukawa was able to ensure the necessary strength and quality.
■Flexible Panel System
The kaleidoscope panels cover roughly 350㎡, composed of 300 pieces of triangular mirror-polished panels each with the original shape and installed at varying angles. In order to precisely install these panels, Kikukawa devised and proposed a new backing frame system that would absorb possible onsite tolerances.
The tip of the panel is fixed with a cone-shaped substructure to secure the installation precision. The backing frames are fabricated by pipe cradlings to absorb any tolerances and allow the precise installation of panels with varying angles. This installation detail allows greater flexibility for on-site installation, leading to a smoother and precise implementation.
Looking down the kaleidoscopic entrance from the second-floor landing, the reflections of the street and the pedestrians are overwhelming.
This project is highly regarded by the client for its difficulty and quality and is one of the most iconic projects Kikukawa has participated in.
|Kaleidoscope Panels||Stainless Steel||Mirror Finish|
|Project||Tokyu Plaza, Omotesando Harajuku|
|Client||Tokyu Land Corporation|
|Architect||Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP + Takenaka Corporation|