located in the faculty of design, kyushu university, in japan, architecture studio ICADA has introduced the biolab, a space for biotechnology exploration. despite its casual ambiance, the biolab is a full-fledged laboratory equipped with a genetic analyzer and an image analyzer and meets the safety standards (P1) to handle genetically modified organisms.

biolab at kyushu university 1
all images by yashiro photo office, courtesy of ICADA



the biolab, designed by ICADA, is jointly run by researchers from different fields such as biologists, geneticists, and media artists. adjacent to it, there is the foodlab, a research space for future food design. the biolab area used to be the kitchen section of the student canteen. once the space lost its original function, the complex shapes of the ducts and range hoods within the interior looked like sculptures.

biolab at kyushu university 2



due to the limited budget, it was not possible to remove all of the existing ducts and range hoods. thus, they were preserved and reused, keeping the memory of the room that had filled the students’ stomach for the past 50 years. hence, the architects focused on the ducts as the ‘leading actor’, and the lab design was based on the concept of ‘renovation of ducts’.

biolab at kyushu university 3


first, the number of range hoods was reduced in order to generate more space. after this removal, the ducts were re-connected and reused as custom-made ‘duct furniture’. shelves were suspended from the existing ducts, and the main test bench and experiment sink were placed below them.

biolab at kyushu university 4


lighting was installed inside the range hoods, became the spatial devices that illuminated experimental equipment at the biolab. for ambient light, a magnet-type spotlight was used that sticks to the iron ducts and allows the user to change its position freely. 

biolab at kyushu university 5



most of the furniture has been modified from existing kitchen tables with additional wooden storage. for the windows, surplus acrylic scraps from the university’s workshop were used, in order to ensure the airtightness of the lab space. these and many other low-cost ideas have reduced the construction costs by about 30%, as compared to general laboratory renovations.

biolab at kyushu university 6

biolab at kyushu university 7

biolab at kyushu university 8

biolab at kyushu university 9

biolab at kyushu university 11


project info:


name: biolab
architecture office: ICADA / masaaki iwamoto
collaborators: maiko kondo, minami omura, kyushu university
lighting designer: masaaki sato, yuri goto, modulex
contractor: takuya uchiyama, exworks
photographer: yashiro photo office



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom