It’s not often that we get to see the inside of a modern design centre, but Nissan threw open the doors of its ‘Imagination Factory’ to journalists the day before the Tokyo motor show.

Nissan’s Advanced Technology Centre is located in a semi-rural area, nearly two hours drive from Tokyo, and looks like any ultra-modern building should. Inside, its airy spaces are trying to meld advanced engineering and advanced design into one synchronised stream of new ideas.

Running the length of the main building is a wide, wooden floored area, which is called the 'info-street'. Here there are exhibitions of ‘hot trends’ in product design, exhibitions of new Nissan technology, displays of ‘high-profile’ rival cars and magazines and books to peruse.

Nissan also dismantles rival cars into individual parts and puts them on display. It seemed quite happy for us to examine the guts of a Lexus GS hybrid that it had laid out (left).

Nearby is the brand new design centre which features design studios as well as large halls for full-scale clay modelling and full-size mock-ups to be built. The designers have their own well-stocked library (above), which looks like a Scandanvian primary school; it's called the ‘info-kitchen’.