A well-known architect and urban designer, Norihiko Dan is also a passionate environmental activist. From 2003-2006, he served under Nagano Prefectural Mayor Yasuo Tanaka as Master Architect, tasked with preserving the environment of Karuizawa, Japan.
Dan’s visions are guided by what’s best for the planet, and this is evident in his design of the Nishikyogoku Swimming Pool Complex in Kyoto Prefecture. “My favorite part about this particular project is that it is half architecture and half landform, which creates a beautiful and uninterrupted whole,” explains Dan.
The building required approximately 3.0 hectares (30,000 square meters) gross floor space, yet it inhabited a site of just 3.6 hectares. The space also required dual functionality—it needed to accommodate a swimming pool in the summertime and a skating rink in the winter months. To manage these two facilities, the building needed a large-scaled underground mechanical room. This necessitated the removal of about 90,000 cubic meters of dirt, the equivalent of filling 3,000 dump trucks—highly inefficient and highly inconvenient to the surrounding area.
To solve the problem, Dan spent a lot of time considering the actual site. “The design approach for modern architecture lies in breaking down this 180,000 cubic meter architectural mass into parts, or to compose them, to create the building,” he begins. Then inspiration struck. “If we compare this project to curry, the 90,000 cubic meters of dirt would be the ‘sauce’ and the 180,000 cubic meters of architecture would be the ‘rice, meat, and vegetables’. So we would actually make 270,000 cubic meters of curry in total. I decided to use this idea as my starting point.”
Dan and his team use Vectorworks Architect software to create all of their designs from conception to completion. For the Nishikyogoku Swimming Pool Complex, they made use of the powerful 3D modeling tool set, specifically using NURBS curves to draw the incredible number of freeform shapes, and surfaces. They found that the ease of use and efficiency offered by the programs design-focused tools helped increase their productivity dramatically, and that the renderings helped to sell the project to the city.