Origami Ark or Sun Show Leather Pavilion is a showroom for Sansho Company in Himeji, Japan. Leather tanning and manufacturing is a 1000 years old industry in this region of Japan, therefore this Showroom is a crucial infrastructure to affirm its importance, and give it a new breath.
The leather manufacturer Sansho wanted a showroom that meets two requirements. The first was to be able to show 3000 leather items in a very narrow space limited to 400 m2. The second one was to create a display fixture that impresses the visitor and makes him understand the huge variety of products. The concept: In order to display the 3000 leather items in this narrow space using traditional fixtures, three floors would have been necessary. Subsequently, the impression of variety would be minimal. Instead, and since the client visits both the factory and the showroom, the Origami Ark design is thought to offer him a unique experience by using a display fixture similar to the production units that are used in the factory. These are rearranged into smaller units of 1.5x1.5x2 m3 and are combined together irregularly in a way to create a three level maze inside a single big space. Four types of units are used: The hanger type, the shelf type, the table type, and the drawer type. Each unit has a specific use and can host various numbers of leather items. Exploring the leather products provides the visitor with an experience similar to the one encountered in a jungle gym. Nevertheless, the perception of this huge fixture ever since the client enters the building makes him understand the overwhelming variety of product at a single glance.
The three dimensional framework is made by 100x100 mm2 steel pipes to remind the visitor of the factory atmosphere, a black painting is applied to emphasize the elegance of leather products. In the meanwhile, the walls and ceiling were covered by OSB wood panels to provide a warmer feeling inside the space.
The showroom stands next to the Japanese high speed “Shinkansen” train tracks, only separated by a narrow serving road. Very few people drives on this road, this means that the building is mostly seen by Shinkansen passengers. Inspired by Origami, the traditional Japanese paper folding art, the form of the building was made to impress the Shinkansen passengers by featuring a horizontal sharp-angled appearance. The high-speed of trains enhances this appearance and generates an effect of movement in the building. This effect lets the passengers wondering about the “white spaceship” they just passed by, and makes architecture becoming an advertisement without using a word. The lateral view of the building also looks like an ark made by origami. Sansho hopes this is a metaphor that this building will ship this ancestral material, the leather, to the future times.