Low Cost Does Not Mean Less
The Creation of New Value through Design

Building designs do not only create the form of things.
They also change values, form new experiences, and generate new choices.

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The majority of people living in Japan lead materialistically and emotionally fulfilled lives. However in recent years there has been a demand for a kind of affluence that differs from “showy elegance through investment.” In this climate, what can architectural design do for these people?
In recent times even Hollywood stars have been wearing “fast fashion.” The reason for this is not due to its low cost, but rather because it is a part of their lifestyle. It is said that they possess a sense of value that permits them to decide.
Terminal 3 at Narita International Airport is envisioned to be a terminal building for newly prepared low-cost airlines. Just like “fast fashion,” Terminal 3 is providing people with new choices.

Understanding Low-Cost to be a Positive, and Designing a “Fun Transit Experience”

For Nikken Sekkei, Terminal 3 was a project in which we altered our sense of value by thinking about what sort of true affluence can be created through architecture. One of the design conditions was that the cost was to be about 1/2 per area unit in comparison to other facilities at the same airport. As a result, one value that was altered was in perceiving low cost not as a negative, but rather as a positive force for creating quality. Through the power of design we created a value of experience and fun that can only be had at this terminal. This value differs from the showy gracefulness that can be achieved through investment.

For example, we proposed the building’s passages be divided into colored lanes. The motif for this idea was an athletic stadium track. Doing this does not add to the cost, but serves to encourage the smooth transfer of passengers. We likened the spacious Terminal 3 as a field, and the passengers as athletes.In addition to eliciting feelings of excitement in which one subconsciously wants to start running, we realized a kind of “communication that goes beyond language.” This is due to the fact that since most people around the world are familiar with athletic stadium tracks, using this as a form of signage ensures people do not get lost even if they do not understand the language. If the affluence of a traditional legacy terminal is in making it easy to transfer from place to place, such as in the use of moving walkways, then the affluence proposed by Terminal 3 is in having a fun experience while transiting. Changing “characteristics” into “strengths” is another role of architectural design.

Changing the “Users” of Airports into “Players”

Architectural design also alters the people themselves. To date, those that utilize airports have been referred to as the “users,” but in scenes where those utilizing facilities such as Terminal 3 possess autonomy they can be aptly referred to as “players.” A new culture will be created by these players. New choices are provided through the architectural design of Nikken Sekkei. Our company not only gives form to things; we also propose new values to society and new experiences to people.

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