Corporate offices in Tokyo don’t exactly have a great reputation. Drab, grey walls. Generic cubicles. Desks crammed next to each other. These are some of the images we conjure up. But there are an exceptional few trying to break the mold. And they’re not always tech startups.
In the center of Tokyo’s busy financial district is Pasona, a multi-national recruitment firm. When the company decided they needed a new headquarters they hired Japanese architect Yoshimi Kono to help renovate a large, 9-story building and adorn it with a lush, green wall. But the vegetation doesn’t just live on the exterior. Integrated within the building are urban farming facilities that occupy roughly 20% of the entire office space and support 200 species of fruits, vegetables and rice. Office workers take turns helping to maintain the urban farm and harvest the food, most of which ends up being served in the office cafeteria. “It is the largest and most direct farm-to-table of its kind ever realized inside an office building in Japan,” says the architect.
Monocle Magazine created a great little video on the building, which is also worth checking out. It turns out that the farming project is also independently sustainable. While not only saving on food transportation costs, the idea has generated so much positive feedback that it’s spawned a business venture within the company to teach others about urban farming. Brilliant!
From the architect: “Using both hydroponic and soil based farming, crops and office workers share a common space. For example, tomato vines are suspended above conference tables, lemon and passion fruit trees are used as partitions for meeting spaces, salad leaves are grown inside seminar rooms and bean sprouts are grown under benches.”