Photos: The nine-story Tokyo office building that’s also a farm

August 14, 2013
Obsession
Design
August 14, 2013

Soon, corporate meetings could take place at a table surrounded by rice paddies. At the offices of Pasona, a Tokyo recruitment agency, they already do. The company’s 215,000 square foot building dedicates 20% of its space to growing fresh vegetables, with over 200 species represented.

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The Pasona building
The Pasona building(Kono Designs)

According to a video produced by Monocle magazine, the urban farm—the largest in Japan, with a layout that architects around the world should be paying attention to—doesn’t just exist to produce fresh food for Pasona’s employees. With young Japanese citizens giving up agriculture for business in the city, Pasona and its architecture firm, Kono Designs, hope the lush surroundings will inspire urbanites, and give them a newfound appreciation for agriculture. They hope this can support a reinvigoration of rural areas or at least an increase in the number of urban farms in Tokyo.

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Designers hope the building will bring workers back to their agricultural roots
Designers hope the building will bring workers back to their agricultural roots.(Kono Designs)
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Vines wrap around staircases to maximize space.(Kono Designs)
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Produce includes leafy greens, squash, rice, papaya, and other edibles
Produce includes leafy greens, squash, rice, papaya, and other edibles.(Kono Designs)
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Planners still found room for an abundant variety of flowers
Planners still found room for an abundance of flowers.(Kono Designs)
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Trellises full of squash provide division between meeting areas
Trellises full of squash provide division between meeting areas.(Kono Designs)

The green areas use a combination of soil-based and hydroponic farming. One of the greatest challenges is balancing the climate needed for growing produce with temperatures that are more comfortable for humans. Some say this is the building’s greatest pitfall, with certain rooms repelling visitors. The main entrance, which sports a rice paddy, is a bit warmer, brighter, and moister than most people would prefer. Workers use a side entrance to avoid it.

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The lobby, while very comfortable for rice, may not be worker-friendly
The lobby, while very comfortable for rice, may not be worker-friendly.(Kono Designs)
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The rice and all other produce are used fresh in the office kitchen(Kono Designs)
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Meanwhile, workers have no trouble sharing space with tomatoes.
Meanwhile, workers have no trouble sharing space with tomatoes.(Kono Designs)
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An employee harvests lettuce(Kono Designs)

Urban farming is certainly becoming more prevalent—in Detroit, farming could help save the city’s economy—but space is often an issue. If Pasona’s employees continue to enjoy cohabitating with their food, perhaps the building can serve as a model for others.

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