Clouds AO wraps a Fukuoka building in stainless steel

Brought to you by:

Architect: Clouds Architecture Office
Location: Hakata Ward, City of Fukuoka, Japan
Completion Date: December 2022

Japanese startup and developer Zero-Ten sought to create an encompassing building reflective of Fukuoka, Japan’s cultural talent. 010 Building, designed by New York–based Clouds Architecture Office and executive architects NKS2 Architects and Takumi Nakahara Architecture, was conceived as a “hub” along the Naka River. Containing a theater, bars, a restaurant and adjoining terrace, a high-end eatery, VIP lounge, and rooftop terraces, the building is shrouded by a winding steel curtain on its exterior that reveals select portions of the interior programming.

The complex occupies a site in Fukuoka’s Hakata Ward adjacent to Hakasu, a center of the city’s nightlife, and Canal City, a large commercial complex. The interior program prioritizes the double-height theater, which was elevated to keep the ground floor open to the street. The theater’s stage can expand both horizontally and vertically to allow for immersive productions.

exterior of an entertainment center in a skyline
The building stands out within Hakata’s skyline. (GION)

The building reads as symmetrical square masses stacked atop one another and rotated 45 degrees, but this structural logic is masked by the spiraled facade. The steel “curtains” provide enclosure where needed and open in a way that denies a clear, monumental entrance. The facade’s geometry is visible from all sides and remains dynamic due to the material’s reflective properties. Inside, steel members frame the central staircase which leads to an atrium outside of the theater, a move that wraps the facade into the interior, mixing outside and inside spaces.

Clouds AO founding partner Masayuki Sono told AN that “the spiral skin is configured differently for each orientation according to view, program and exposure to sun.” South-facing panels were “thermally disconnected from the building,” reducing heat gain through a double skin. On the west-facing facade, the bottom of the steel panels were folded to create a canopy for additional shading. Retractable louvers manage sunlight that filters into the building.