Koban Police Station

Kumamoto City, the Prefecture’s largest city, has a new bullet train station. Toyo Ito, the current Artpolis commissioner, oversaw the commissioning of several new buildings around the station, including entrance canopies on either side of the station designed by Ryue Nishizawa and by Mitsuhiko Sato. KDa’s project also formed part of the Kumamoto Artpolis program.

KDa’s koban, or neighborhood police station, stands on a teardrop-shaped site, separated from the large surrounding buildings by taxi stands and a tramline. Looking to make a sculptural gesture in this wide, open space, We designed a ribbon of perforated steel plate running around the top of the building.

To create the friendly, fun image, they colored the upper floor volume and the inside of ribbon with a gentle rainbow gradation, so that the colors visible through the holes change as people move around the area. The ribbon was not part of the brief for the building, but KDa have cunningly made it functional – a three-meter cantilever creates a shelter where patrol cars can park, allowing the police to enter and exit without getting wet!

The clever graphic – an ever-changing billboard! – can be seen from all sides of the building, creating a building that stands out, but up close creates subtle effects by casting shadows on the surrounding road.

Beneath the playful, floating volume of the ribbon, the building’s more pragmatic ground floor was designed to visually recede, with the simple concrete structure and even the window mullions all colored charcoal grey. The building’s interior was designed according to standard police specification.

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  • Nadezhda Nikolova
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