Photo of Van Nguyen and her artwork

This fall semester, Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) unveiled the latest addition to its facilities; The “Parliament” Student Lounge. This lounge is located on the first floor of Azabu Hall and is designed to accommodate the increasing number of students at TUJ, and as part of the ongoing renovation project begun late last year. “The interior design celebrates the multiplicity of the TUJ experience: one that is global, yet singular in the common experience shared by our students, faculty and staff alike,” says Ian Lynam, undergraduate adjunct professor in graphic design who developed the space. The lounge will also be used to hold events and lectures.

One of the highlights of the lounge is the 8-meter-by-2.5-meter owl mural created by TUJ student Van Nguyen, a senior majoring in art. The mural was chosen as the winner of a design competition, open to all TUJ students, faculty and staff, which was held in June.

“I developed the design based on what TUJ and main campus (in Philadelphia) share in common: the Owl,” Nguyen said of the mural’s main theme. One of the competition requirements for the mural was that it not only reflected the famous murals of Philadelphia, but that it also connected to TUJ’s location here in Japan.

“Students from Temple call ourselves Owls; however, not every owl is the same. I wanted to design an Owl that only belongs to TUJ, which was the reason why I used origami patterns for the decoration. On the background is the silhouette of the skylines of Tokyo and Philadelphia on a blue sky, which represents the connection between the two campuses,” said Nguyen, who also won the TUJ Holiday Card Competition in 2014.

Photo of Nguyen and Ian Lynam
Nguyen and Ian Lynam (left), adjunct professor in graphics (Copyright © 2016 Michael Holmes Photo)

With a wealth of experience in office design projects for prominent MNCs based in and around Tokyo, Ian Lynam further explained what was behind the naming and design of the lounge:

“I came up with the name ‘The Parliament,’ as birds who congregate together have specific names—owls, when in groups, are known as a parliament of owls (other examples include a flock of seagulls or a murder of crows). The design concept incorporates a graphic mural designed by student Van Ha ‘Noah’ Nguyen, carpets which feature the Temple logo, the halftone patterns which are part of Temple’s greater branding reproduced at different scales to represent mimesis and the passing of knowledge, as well as a wall which features the flags of the world.”