Perched above the dramatic north coast, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University ignites interdisciplinary connections among leading researchers from around the world. The Institute was founded by the Japanese government to promote scientific breakthroughs, innovation, and sustainable development of Okinawa. We were delighted to join the international team in the early stages of this project to create a masterplan that reflects the collaborative nature of science and fosters daily connections across disciplines.
The campus as a village
The OIST campus can be thought of as a “village”—a human-scaled place where people gather, live, work, and play. Providing opportunities for social interaction and chance encounters was a critical element of the campus design. Social spaces for meetings and interaction were integrated carefully to encourage collaboration amongst students and researchers while fostering a sense of community.
Integrated into the landscape to create a memorable sense of place
Okinawa is a beautiful subtropical island — an extraordinary landscape that presented unique challenges, including deep ravines that traverse the building site and result in dispersed areas that can be developed. The design carefully responded to the site’s topography, existing vegetation, climate, and views, similar to, but different from, the existing OIST buildings. The masterplan places the residential campus village on the lower part of the site adjacent to a lake, with state-of-the-art laboratories and central facilities higher up the site. These two areas are connected by a curving pedestrian pathway, imbued with opportunities for social and academic interaction.
“Great science arises where there are no boundaries but strong networks. Scientific breakthroughs happen at the borders of disciplines.” — Dr. Peter Gruss, President/CEO, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University
Putting research and learning on display
OIST’s mission centers around cutting-edge research and teaching. Accordingly, the masterplan design makes learning, research and collaboration visible on campus. Laboratories and the spaces that surround them were envisioned as light-filled, highly flexible research environments that encourage social interaction and creative thought. As OIST grows and changes over time, expanding into new disciplines and adapting to developments in practice in technology, its labs can evolve along with it.
More About the Project
- Cesar Pelli, FAIA, RIBA, JIA
- Fred Clarke, FAIA, RIBA, JIA ↗
- Mariko Masuoka, FAIA, LEED AP
- Jun Mitsui, AIA, JIA
- Wes Wright, AIA
- Bruce Hancock
- Blake Mitchell
- Marcus Myerholtz
- Bailey Topper
- Aude Jomini
- Lab Planning: Jacobs Consultancy
- Higher Education Consulting: Rickes Associates
- Sustainability Design: Nippon Koei/EAC
- Location: Okinawa, Japan
- Client: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University
- Size: 222 hectares
- Completion: 2014
- Firm Role: Master Planner