GR230 by Code


GR230 by Code

This motorway service station along Route 230 in northern Japan, by architects Code, has a black, rectangular form that snakes up from the ground towards a nearby mountain.

GR230 by Code

The shape of the building was influenced by the curves of the landscape, but internally it has a simple single-storey arrangement.

GR230 by Code

A number of shops and food outlets are contained within, serving drivers travelling between the towns of Kutchan and Rusutsu.

GR230 by Code

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GR230 by Code

Here are some more details about the project from the architect:

Concept Text

GR230 is a highway service centre located in the town of Kimobetsu, Hokkaido. Situated along Route 230 at the crossroads leading towards Kutchan and Rusutsu, the facility is a vital hub that connects various towns and areas in the Shiribeshi sub prefecture, including popular tourist spots, museums, workplaces, homes and a diverse range of other everyday destinations.

GR230 by Code

GR230’s primary function is to provide services centring on food from the local area. It features a simple, flat layout that consists of shops and kiosks, rest areas, and food and beverage outlets.

GR230 by Code

This project began in 2005 as part of a plan to widen Route 230, a national highway that runs right through the centre of Kimobetsu. The town offered us the use of a site for our proposed building, with the car park, toilets and tourist office managed by the local municipal government. Construction and business operations were undertaken by private corporations.

GR230 by Code

A town planning committee was launched in Kimobetsu at the same time that the project was getting started, which we joined from the outset. One of the issues involved in planning this highway service centre was how to project its presence in relation to the passing traffic. We made careful, repeated studies of building forms that would be appropriate to the location as well as how the centre would serve as a local landmark, finally deciding that the architecture itself ought to serve as a kind of signboard.

GR230 by Code

Although the completed form of the building was designed to incorporate multiple meanings within it, the motif on which the shape of the facility was based is in fact concealed within the landscape of ravines and gorges, with Mount Shiribetsu to the south and Mount Yotei to the west.

GR230 by Code

Click above for larger image

While the magnificent scenery that surrounds the building may bring to mind a lush, green summer season, this part of Hokkaido actually sees long winters that last for almost half the year. The black band made up of various trees whose leaves have fallen is a bare expression of the vast land that is obscured during the warmer months. Undulations in the structure, combined with colour gradations in the black band and the contrast with the white snow-covered fields in the distance, create an abstract visual effect.

When the architectural form of the building first emerged over the course of our studies, we felt as if a vision of the pristine winter landscapes of northern Japan had surfaced from the depths of our memory.

With GR230, we have created a beautiful piece of architecture that commands a dignified presence during the foliage-rich summer months, and a quieter one that seemingly dissolves into the surrounding landscape during the long, reclusive winters.

Project credits/data
Architects: Naoji maekawa
Total floor space: 371.38sq m
Structure: Wooden flat building


    (first) Form + (after) Cafe = Fail

    • hasty

      Hey steefspost, What exactly do you mean? That the form came first and therefore the design is wrong? Or that the form combined with the cafe are unsuccessful? Please explain more clearly before giving the project your mighty "Fail" label.

      • I believe he's questioning that the cafe was an after thought to the form and was not part of the original thought process and therefore the function is subservient to the form.

  • Markus

    The form of the building is indeed very interesting, but I fail to see from the photographs supplied how it supposedly compliments its context…!?

  • jang

    lovely curve!! it is simple and powerful