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Manga Style Façade – New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House”

The branch of the Japanese pharma company Astellas is located in the Bio Science Park in the Dutch city of Leiden – a national leader in the Netherlands in activities relating to the bio-medical sciences. Security is an essential element in the design of the building, which houses both offices and an ultramodern laboratory for scientific research. Rather than approaching this issue in an exclusive way – by confining and fortifying the structure – the design for the Astellas building integrates the security concept inclusively, with the frame of the building serving as an unconcealed enclosure.

Architects: UNStudio
Location: Bio Science Park, Sylviusweg 62, 2333 BE Leiden, Netherlands

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Photograph: Christian Richters

Equally essential to the design of the building is the creation of a pleasant, open and transparent working environment for Astellas employees, in addition to an agreeable and welcoming gesture to their international visitors. The organisation and materialisation of the building ensures clear views from each of the three areas within the main frame. Glass façades are employed to provide sufficient daylight, whilst also creating open visual communication throughout the structure.

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Seasonal sun position, diagram: UNStudio

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Sunlight redirection, diagram: UNStudio

The building frame integrates into one gesture three sections of varying heights, which together encircle an inner courtyard garden. Covering six floors on the west side of the building are the office spaces. A restaurant with a roof terrace is located on the lower floor of this area. The Eastern section of the building houses four floors of laboratories.

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UN Studio

Circulation, diagram: UNStudio

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UN Studio

Design steps, diagram: UNStudio

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UN Studio

Photograph: Christian Richters

The main entrance to the building is located on the South East and employs the concept of the hotel lobby to comfortably welcome employees and visitors from home and abroad. The floor to ceiling glass façades and large skylights of the expansive, 3.7 meter high lobby area provide visual links to both the inner garden and the surrounding street life. The Western side of the lobby area houses seating areas and meeting rooms. Direct access to the inner garden, which is based on traditional enclosed Japanese gardens, is possible from all three sections of the building.

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UN Studio

Diagram: UNStudio

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UN Studio

Photograph: Christian Richters

Parking is provided at street level to the East of the building and in a sunken parking garage underneath the main structure. The ground floor of the building is raised to a height of 1.7 meters and is accessed by steps which lead to the lobby area from street level. The floor plans in the interior are flexible and based on the campus concept, where emphasis is placed on communication. 

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Photograph: Christian Richters

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Photograph: Christian Richters

Glass and aluminium are the main materials used in the façade of the Astellas building in order to provide a lightweight structure which requires less material usage in its foundations. Lamellas are incorporated on each level of the façade in order to deflect direct sunlight. The glass panes are further coated to additionally reduce heat load to the interior.

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Photograph: Christian Richters

On the Northern side of the building, where sunlight is less prevalent, floor to ceiling glass is employed, with 4cm deep lamellas. The South and East/West façades respectively are furnished with lamellas with a depth of 30cm and 20cm. Parapets of 90cm are also employed on these façades in order to further reduce direct sunlight penetration. The building as a whole has an 89%-90% net to gross floor ratio, with an underground energy storage system further reducing energy usage. Colour is introduced into the façade by means of a vertical variation in the four contrasting tones of the Japanese Manga animation films.

New Laboratory and Offices “Mirai House” in Leiden, Netherlands, by UNStudio

Photograph: Christian Richters

Project data

Client: G&S Vastgoed
Programme: Offices and laboratories
Area: Offices approx. 11,200 m² / laboratories approx. 5,500 m² / parking places 300
Site: 11,270 m², built 3,921 m²
Design: 2009
Realisation: 2012

Construction: Vd Vorm Engineering
Installations: Techniplan adviseurs (TPA)
Contractor: G&S Bouw
Landscape: Kees Tolk Ontwerp
Interior: Procore – Arnold Schoordijk

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