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Shape your world Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University


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A sustainable and inclusive building to cultivate people
who can change the world

The Green Commons (our new academic building) is home to a variety of learning commons that will encourage even more vigorous interaction and student activities than ever before, new learning spaces that can accommodate interactive learning and classes that are transforming with the adoption of new online tools. It is also equipped with new research spaces that aim to foster innovation in APU’s freshly-minted three-college framework. The central open-air commons, which resonates with these concepts, has been designed to generate synergies. Furthermore, by engaging students, faculty, and residents of the local communities in dialogue, we aim to create a Global Learning Community where everyone can take on many new challenges.

Five key points
about the

Green Commons


Wooden architecture

Timber from Oita Prefecture accounts for 95% of the Green Commons construction

In light of the mission of the College of Sustainability and Tourism that was newly established in April 2023, we made the bold decision to build the Green Commons out of wood that will contribute to achieving the SDGs, a set of global goals.
The large central space, which serves as a symbol of the building, is one of the largest wooden structures in Japan for an educational facility, and it was built using 450 cubic meters of wood.

Over 95% of the timber used for the central portion of the building is cedar that was produced in Oita Prefecture, thus achieving the concept of local production for local consumption.
The use of wood in construction promotes the environmental cycle of cutting down, planting, and growing, leading to the realization of a carbon-neutral society.
By adopting a progressive and sustainable architectural design that makes use of natural energy and various other environmental technologies, the Green Commons serves as both a center for learning and a living resource for environmental education.

Commitment to wooden architecture: Comments from the people involved

OHTA Takeshi Deputy Director of University Administration and Student Services (*at the time of groundbreaking)
OHTA Takeshi

Deputy Director of University Administration and Student Services

(*at the time of groundbreaking)

Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University

Oita Prefecture, one of the leading producers of cedar and cypress in the country, naturally embraced the idea of "local production for local consumption" by utilizing wood in the construction of a new building to establish a faculty under the banner of sustainability.

The wooden school building is positioned as a teaching material in itself for the faculty's goal of fostering individuals who will contribute to a sustainable society through regional resource circulation and value creation. Through learning and interaction at Green Commons, we hope that students will experience the comfort of wooden architecture and develop an interest in the challenges of forestry and environmental issues in Japan and the world.

SETO Koichiro Chief Executive Officer Hita Jujo Co., Ltd.
SETO Koichiro

Chief Executive Officer

Hita Jujo Co., Ltd.

The trees in Japan have grown too large to be used in the construction of regular houses.
Amid this backdrop, it was very gratifying for us to be able to use large trees whole. Also, in the past few years, we have seen advances in wood construction as well as earthquake and fire resistance technologies. Given the cutting-edge technologies used in the Green Commons, I hope that it can serve as a building that demonstrates the quality of wood while evoking peace of mind. Wood is truly a recyclable material, so I think that having students learn in this kind of environment can lead to many new things.


Secrets of the Stage

Japan’s first-ever three-story wooden atrium-style commons

The Green Commons Stage is the main feature of the Green Commons.
Featuring a three-story atrium with a large staircase, it is one of the largest wooden structures in Japan for an educational facility. This dynamic, first-ever three-story atrium-style commons in Japan exudes the fragrance of cedar from right here in Oita Prefecture.

A wooden commons that
seamlessly connects the nearby satoyama
with the Academic Plaza
Green Commons Stage:
A place where a diverse values intermingle

Equipped with both a ramp and an elevator, the Green Commons Stage is wheelchair accessible. With classrooms on either side, it serves as a place where all learning in the building comes to the fore.


Inclusive commons space

Inclusive commons provide variety of spaces for students to congregate and engage in activities

The building is equipped with a wide array of shared spaces (commons), each with different floor areas, ceiling heights, furniture, and equipment, thereby allowing students to choose a space to congregate depending on the number of users, the purpose of use, or how they feel. What’s more, we accepted the challenge to create unprecedented new commons, which include features such as a barrier-free stage-like platform accessible by a wheelchair ramp, an elevator, and gender-neutral restrooms. By pursuing a wide range of extracurricular activities, community exchange events, and research in these commons, our students will help to make APU even more inclusive.

Cozy Commons

The commons were designed with multicultural collaboration and diverse learning styles in mind.
The nurturing feeling of the Cozy Commons, and the Satoyama Gallery, which aim to create a point of contact with the local community, are the perfect places for students to recharge or to engage in meaningful communication.

Inclusive restrooms

Regarding the All-Gender Bathrooms, workshops were held with student and staff participation for discussions. We received input from participants who expressed concern about the visibility from others when entering the toilet space. In response to this, we designed a wash room that features a multipurpose booth and two toilets that have an inviting atmosphere.

One of the rest rooms exudes warmth with its wood tones, while the other is low-lit and designed to be more stylish. The exterior walls are positioned to create a labyrinthine structure, and both restrooms incorporate wooden fixtures, thus making them a relaxing space for anyone.


Rearrangeable Active Learning classrooms

What mechanisms are the Active Learning classrooms equipped with?

In response to the demand for active learning classrooms, we held workshops with students, faculty, and staff members to design a variety of classrooms, including one with galleries where students and others can participate in or observe classes, as well as classrooms with equipment that encourages active discussion and dialogue, distinctive color schemes, and furniture and signage made from local Oita Prefecture materials that exude a sense of warmth. By promoting inclusive learning in the new classrooms, we aim to create solutions through an intermingling of different cultures and values.

Mechanism 1:Two galleries from which to observe or participate in classes

The Active Learning classroom, which is open to the outside world and enables the transmission of APU's unique classes, has a closed gallery where classes can be observed from above as well as an open gallery where students can participate in classes. These galleries provide visitors to the campus with a first-hand glimpse into APU’s practical learning while also facilitating student learning.

Closed gallery where classes can be viewed from above
Open gallery that enables both observation and participation
Mechanism 2:Rearrangeable classroom layout

The layout of the classroom can be freely rearranged to create an environment suitable for the different learning styles and activities of each class. Whiteboards are installed on three of the classroom walls, thus allowing for in-class discussions at any time.

AL classroom where discussion can be held at any time
Medium-sized classroom designed to facilitate group work
Mechanism 3:Horseshoe-shaped classroom specifically designed for group work

In this classroom, we sought a design that facilitates group work and discussion, which is an integral part of APU classes. The distinctive horseshoe-shaped desk layout can accommodate a variety of group work situations.

Horseshoe-shaped classroom designed
to facilitate active learning in group work
Group work in the horseshoe-shaped classroom Group work in the horseshoe-shaped classroom

Kitchen-equipped living commons that connects the faculty offices

Innovation Living A space to encourage research exchange

We also paid careful attention to the design of the faculty offices in the new building.
Innovation Living, a corridor that connects the faculty offices, is furnished with colorful moveable furniture and wooden kitchen counters made from Oita Prefecture timber, thereby providing faculty members with a space where they can interact with each other and with students.

Research labs and the innovation living space can be seamlessly combined and utilized together by opening the large sliding doors.


Time-lapse video of the construction

We created a time-lapse video to document the construction of the Green Commons, one of the largest wooden university buildings in Japan. The environmentally sustainable building technology blends with beautiful design and the warmth of wood to create an enriching learning environment. Be sure to check it out.