Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza (Taki Plaza)
The Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza, completed on the Tokyo Institute of Technology's Ookayama Campus in November 2020, is a strategic new hub for international exchange among students. The construction of this impressive new structure was supported by donations from Hisao Taki, Tokyo Tech alumnus and the founder, chairman and director of Gurunavi, Inc., Japan's largest gourmet and restaurant guide. The building's design is the work of renowned urban architectural firm Kengo Kuma and Associates. The plaza opened its doors about four years after the original concept of the project was unveiled.
The "Culture of Hills" Breathing Life into Tokyo Tech
As evident from the word yama ("mountain") in its name, the Ookayama Campus features topography rich in hilly terrain and other lovely natural traits. For example, the grassy slope along the Main Building leading down to the Nomi River is an expanse where students and local residents regularly get together and relax. One photograph in the Tokyo Tech archives shows students enjoying snow skiing down this same incline. Taki Plaza was inspired by the distinctive hills and slopes for which the topography at Ookayama Campus is renowned, sparking an architectural design in the image of a hill integrated into the earth.
New Topography Serving Students
The design quest was to add new topography to the Ookayama Campus. This was connected to expanding mutual learning, discussions, and other activities students have traditionally enjoyed on the green grassy slope to both the outside and inside of the new Taki Plaza building. The goal was not to deploy a structure prominent for its towering height. Instead, an emerging new green topography — with over half of the plaza underground — has been masterfully integrated with the hilly expanse of the adjoining Institute library and rows of surrounding trees, blending effortlessly into the campus's landscape. The plaza is a striking new entrance to Tokyo Tech, a shining symbol of a top institution of higher education steadfastly reflecting a truly global perspective.
A Terrace Connecting the Four Levels
In the building's interior, a vast, terrace space expands upward, creating individual spaces for interactions for international students, workshops, personal studies and numerous other uses, reflecting the individual floor concepts Tokyo Tech students proposed. This singular structure encourages rich visual and hands-on connections, setting the stage for diversified exchange between students.
Large Stairway and Event Space
The expansive stairway connecting the first and second basement levels stretches beyond the building's interior to the outdoors. This encourages students to sit down and relax, while also providing integrated possibilities for uses that include both the inside and outside of the structure. The nine-screen multi-monitor at the end of the stairway also allows for large-scale events that use the stairs themselves and the second basement level as audience seating. The sunken garden outside the building is an excellent space for open-air events, and also welcomes sunlight into the reading room of the adjoining Institute library.
Numerous Approaches to the Plaza
Taki Plaza was designed to provide direct access to all floors via the outside stairway integrated with the building. This flight of stairs also serves as an expansive realm where students can sit down to rest and interact, much like the grassy slope that has been the site of rich student interaction over the years. The first basement level is equipped with a connecting passageway for direct access to and from the Institute library, which is located alongside the Plaza. Providing approaches from multiple directions creates a venue accessible by students both inside and outside.
Realization of a student-centered place to "connect"
Taki Plaza is a unique place which enables students proactively to involve themselves in establishing systems and/or groups that they need or want for university life.
There are two student-oriented organizations, Taki Plaza Gardener (TPG) and Attic Lab, which operate directly under the Taki Plaza Steering Committee that mainly manages the plaza. Members of both are highly motivated in planning and organizing various exchange events and activities.
TPG holds the annual Wakaba Festival in April to welcome new students, which fully utilizes the facilities of Taki Plaza.
Attic Lab also provides many opportunities, like the "Research Lightning Talk Session", for example, in which students are challenged to explain his/her research in detail to others of diverse backgrounds through active Q&A sessions.
152-8550 TP-001, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Support Planning Group, Student Support Division, Student Service Department, Tokyo Institute of Technology
Tel 03-5734-3011 FAX 03-5734-3240