Internship Experience with Obayashi Corporation, Japan

Obayashi Corporation is one of the five major Japanese construction companies. It was founded by Mr. Yoshigoro Obayashi in 1892 in Osaka, and operates not only in Japan but also overseas including Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe and United States. Recently, Obayashi Corporation has been involving in many major Japanese landmarks for example the Kyoto Station, Tokyo Skytree, Namba Parks, Grand Front Osaka, and Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) Center. During 2016 Ando Program Host Company Training in Obayashi Corporation, there were two trainees have been working here in a ten-day internship since 3 October to 18 October 2016. My dearest colleagues from Bangladesh, Ishika Alim and I, Muhammad Nelza Mulki Iqbal from Indonesia, were given a design assignment about Osaka New Museum and we were taken on a building construction site visit in Kyoto and Osaka. It was a wonderful experience that we never imagined, working in a tight schedule while trying to learn as much as possible about Japanese construction technology and design approaches.

In our first day, we got a warm orientation from Obayashi Corporation staff. In the morning we met with the representative of Obayashi Corporation in our Hotel. At the office we directly met with the staff from Design Department Members in Obayashi Corporation. We got a brief introduction of Obayashi Corporation, including the number of architect and Design Department Members. We were also given a brief introduction of our design assignment about making a schematic design of Osaka New Museum. It was actually a real project competition that has been launched by the Osaka Prefecture Government, and it was under reviewing by the judges. After lunch time, we went to the Obayashi History Museum to deeply know about Obayashi’s technology throughout the time. We had a short tour about Obayashi’s journeys from the beginning until the future project of developing the first space elevator in 2050. It was a wonderful chance to know about the historical timeline relate to Obayashi’s approaches, principles and technologies.

In general, our internship was divided into two parts; design work and site visiting. For the design work of the Osaka New Museum, we came up with two different ideas. Ishika’s concept mostly dealt with combining nature and the architecture, taking inspiration from the traditional architecture of Japan. She wanted to bring back the lost-rich history of Nakanoshima area, our site of the museum. Nakanoshima used to be a major water transportation hub in ancient period and it used to thrive as a social waterscape. She wanted to create a museum that will bring back the history of the site as well as recreate that particular social-waterscape by inviting people from all around the city. She derived reference lines and axis from the surrounding site. From that lines she derived her basic form. She tried to incorporate nature and water all around the site and made it look like an island to represent Japan in a smaller scale to make her museum an iconic one. The building can be accessed from multi-direction. One can take a boat trip around the small island like green natural mounts all around the building to experience the open exhibition spaces.  The green and the water-body will not only contribute to the environment by being a natural soft element amongst the concrete hard surface all around but also provide a soothing view for the people working in the high rise buildings all around the site and thus provide psychological relief to them.


My main concept was taken from the original shape of Osaka Prefecture Logo. My intention was incorporating Osaka’s identity that can be viewed and remembered from the various perspective especially from the top-view. That was the reason, I pushed the actual site down until three meters from the actual condition so people can look at the site in their daily basis activities. I wanted to strengthen a point of view from this site while challenging a lot of high rise buildings around our site.

Furthermore, my initial ideas were derived from the approaching strategy of museum builders that written by Laura Hourston (2004). One of the strategy that can be used for designing a museum is finding a natural solution through understanding analogy of identity and it can be applied to the landscape intervention. Also, I want to incorporate Japanese culture as well as their habit of walking and cycling in order to make a live museum that can be used not only in working hour but as a part of Osaka’s everyday live. As a live museum, I also gave a lot of space for open exhibition and blank wall spaces that can be painted by local or international artist. This intervention will open possibilities to always renew museum atmosphere along with incorporating a big space for the landscape that can be seen differently depends on the season.


Despite of working on our design, we also had a chance to meet with Obayashi’s young architects to discuss about the development of our projects. We had three meetings for discussing our design and it was divided into a concept presentation, design development presentation, and the last one was a final presentation. Through the discussion with Obayashi’s staff we were not only given a lot of feedbacks regarding our design, but also they shared another project example that close to our design in order to enrich our understanding in terms of structural, details, and technical aspects.

While working with our design assignment, we were also given a chance to experience Autodesk Revit, a program that based on Building Information Management (BIM) and it was totally new for us. By using this software, we can save our time in developing our design because we put all the information needed in one program. Therefore, it will be easy to produce not only schematic drawings, but also technical drawings as well as information related to calculation, building features, and building analysis.


As a part of our internship program we also had a chance to visit many places from single scale buildings to the urban scale projects. We also got a lot of insight related to the advanced construction technology, design approaches, construction methods, and special arrangements about the building construction. When we visited Grand Front Osaka, we learnt how the social approach is matter to create wide variety activities that making the building alive and able to improve the society around. About construction process, we visited ongoing development of Premist Tower Osaka Shinmachi, Osaka Hospital, and Kyoto Waste Management Plant Area. For us, the construction sites were amazingly neat and clean, they also presented a building management process and how Japanese construction companies keeping their building quality.

Obayashi’s staff, despite being one of the leading construction companies and being very busy, was always there to guide us and help us out. Without their kindness in treating us so well we could not get many good things in our internship time. Obayashi taught us not only related to design skills and technical information but also a strong work ethic and how to be open hearted people.

This report was written as a part of the 2016 OSAKA Invitational Program for Short-Term Overseas Trainees in Architecture and Arts. 



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