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Architectural style

The Office of the Governor-General was built in a late-Renaissance style that was influenced by the English architect Norman Shaw and is sometimes referred to as "the Tatsuno specifications." The facade consists of many classical elements, including colonnades, gables, arched windows, oeil-de-boeuf windows, brackets, Roman columns, and compound columns. The capitals of the columns are of a clean-cut Doric style, while most of the walls and pillars are highly ornate, creating a splendid exterior. The central tower is about 60 meters high, and in a frontal view of the facade, the two corner towers and the peak of the central tower combine to approximate the shape of a pyramid. The tower and the main structure are made of reinforced concrete, while the outside walls are faced in red brick and plaster ornamentation, creating a refined and elegant style. The lowest level of the facade serves as the foundation. The third floor features segmental arches, while the fourth floor has Roman arches and compound columns. The facade on the second to the fourth floors is fronted by an exterior portico on all but the north side of the building, while the fifth floor has a recessed balcony. This type of porticoed facade is referred to as the "veranda colonial" style.

The ground plan of the building features a double courtyard layout. Some say that the design was made this way intentionally to symbolize Japanese colonial rule (a reference to the fact that the Chinese character "日", which is used to describe a double courtyard layout, is also the first character in 日本 [Japan]), but in fact it was chosen for its strong earthquake resistance, which is further enhanced by the octagonal chambers designed into the main structure at four of the courtyard corners. Also, while the east, south, and west sides of the building have porticos, the northern side does not, probably to ensure that offices on the north side are sufficiently illuminated by natural light. For this reason, the building is not entirely symmetrical in structure.

Spatial layout

The horizontal flow of the building is mainly defined by the corridors surrounding the two courtyards, while the vertical flow is defined by stairwells and elevators that rise from the ground to the top floor, and by a grand ceremonial staircase. Ordinary staircases and elevators are located in the four corners, and near the Main Entrance in front and the Main West Side Entrance in the rear. The grand ceremonial staircase in the Entrance Hall branches into a T shape at the top and connects to the central corridor on the third floor and to the Auditorium (known as the "Conference Room" prior to retrocession).

During the Japanese colonial period, ceremonial functions and high-level official events were always held in rooms located along the building's central axis, while the peripheral areas of the building were used for routine matters. Space on the ground floor was used for the provision of logistics services, while the space on the second through fifth floors was primarily for the handling of administrative affairs. Since offices were designed for practical purposes, they were not particularly embellished. Only the central space where various ceremonies were held was particularly ornate.

Architectural features

▲ Presidential Office Building today (courtesy of the Department of Special Affairs, Office of the President)
▲ Presidential Office Building today (courtesy of the Department of Special Affairs, Office of the President)
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