One building on two sites

The site assigned for Doshisya Kyotanabe Chapel, which houses the Chapel and Niijima Jo (Doshisya University founder) Exhibition space, is separated by a 6-meter campus passageway into two sites. The required programs physically take up area of both sites. So, we searched for the meaning of designing one building on two sites – philosophically and visually – rather than two buildings on two sites.

Unraveling history of the oldest private university in Japan, Doshisya University, it was founded in 1875 by Niijima Jo who traveled across Pacific Ocean to the United States despite the Japan national ban of international travel, and encountered Christianity (Protestant); he then founded Doshisya aiming to educate young men and women of Japan with moral values of Christianity. We symbolized the Pacific Ocean separating Japan and United States with the water feature “Niijima Jo’s Ocean” spanning across the campus passageway to the two sites, and considered by directly facing the Chapel and Niijima Jo Exhibition Space to each other, we can utilize the character of the separate two sites to add value which is unique to Doshisya University. Philosophically the Chapel (“Christianity value”) and Niijima Jo Exhibition Space (“Liberalism”) together formed the founding spirit of Doshisya University; by bringing the Chapel and Niijima Jo Exhibition Space close to each other, we feel the spirit of Doshisya can be naturally perceived by the students.

Externally by offsetting buildings volumes, we aesthetically included the campus passageway as a part of the building design. Internally, we eliminated any openings to the longitudinal building elevations in order to bring the sense of distance closer between rooms at the two sites, 38-meters apart at maximum. From within the buildings, we have placed large clear openings only at the short elevations, hence deliberately restricted visual connection from within only to direct to the opposite building. We further enhanced the connection to the opposite building by continuing steel columns at 2.6-meter spacing from one building to the next.

We set out on a journey to find meaning of the separated sites – meaning that is unique to Doshisya University –, then enhanced that meaning with the design of our building. By designing the buildings with visual integrity from outside and within, we believe we have achieved one building – philosophically and visually – on two separate sites.