Audi Forum – The Iceberg – Aoyama/Omotesando Creative Designers International (April 2006 )

This exceptional building stands on its own mainly because speaks “another language” than the japanese one. I do not know who is the designer covert under the CDI signature (those italian architects cites Benjamin Warner as their director) but he or she certainly does not follow the principle of japanese aesthetic called wabi saki suki (see wikipedia for a short sight).

The designer offical web site has english pages that confirm my opinion, they want to amaze and not amuse,therefore Audi executives probably addressed the strategy and it is really difficult understand why and how. I believe Audi did some great vehicles, lately Audi TT was a huge world wide success, but they are in their field valued more than how much this building could be esteemed in the architectural one.

On other hand a structural approach may raise his value since it has been demanded a high skilled engineer team for working on that complicated asimmetric surfaces. Although the transparent core elevator has been placed frontally for tryingto give a sense of stability to the viewer, the balance is not yet reached.


Many japanese architects (Tezuka and Ito I distinctly recall saying so) assert that they do hundreds of models before reaching the final cut. I personally experienced it in my architectural internship here in Tokyo, having even been bored of that extremely meticolous approach. Here they probably wanted to transcend the surroundings for trying to escape from the conformity, yet the result is something heavily ornate even if it has not got any ornament in a strict sense than the transparent surfaces. How should I call a transparent surface in a town where are ubiquitous since every commercial onstruction has a transparent glass, from the smaller cafe to the taller skyscraper?(226 words)

Here an australian architectural magazine online has an several articles on Tokyo you may find useful.

In this japanese blog many pictures of the same subject.

Here somebody strolled around in Omotesando and shooted many pictures, audi forum is included.

Another walk into Omotesando from a professional designer studio.


Tokyu Plaza – Omotesando/Harajuku– Nakamura Takuji architect (中村拓志) (completed April 2013 )


We are in the same area we were before for the H&M flagship shop, called Harajuku.

I am writing this time about a new construction who has been inagurated recently (April 2013) its salient feature is both conceptual and real upon integrating the green inside the city. Despite the fact the building is not a beauty (the main entrance from the intersection with two sliding stairs, with triangle mirrors looks like a Mirror Castle in a Luna Park), having a coffe at the 6th floor is a beatiful experience and I would say the best experience among the outdoor dining in central Tokyo excluding the Odaiba area near the sea.


Mr Nakamura Takuji has planned a whole floor dedicated to the brand starbucks, which respond to different needs such as families and lovers, which is uncommon in town. More than once I read a sign upon a front door restaurant saying that kids are not allowed for dining, and those places weren’t clubs in Roppongi!

Here you have a nice “kindergarten” where you can let your kids running and going up & down of the stairs without being too worried.

Also from another point of view this is a real square just as Tokyo is missing the most. Last time I visited it was on a Saturday and it was full with a long cue at the entrance. I assume it is going to be crowded every weekend from now forever because what this is exactly what I miss the most, as Italian, European and furthermore as western man inside the Tokyo’s life. Place where you can meet people in a peaceful and relaxed athmosphere outdoor but parks. For instance the Omotosando Hills Complex, (which is already inside every book of architecture you must study completed in 2006 just only 7 years ago and it is only about 100 metres further) designed by the world known Tadao Ando is all indoor. It has just few places from one can look outside by large windows, still the sun or the breeze are not perceptible.


The Tokyu Plaza mall comprise 27 shops. On the top floor a restaurant has a nice row of table for couple lined in front of a large window where you can admire the lights of the city. Behind this tables row a low wall hase been placed to separate the customers from the rest that makes them feel a full intimacy.


From another japanese blog here some descriptions and pictures.

Others rendering material from this website here.

Here a negative comment about the building and the japanese architects flaws.

Here another japanese blogger with other buildings in the area, Tod’s, Vuitton and so on.

Here a picture during the presentation of the project.

This blog is hironizing about the toilet signs.

This japanese blogger has not been satisfied by the opening party and the project itself.

This seems to me a press release of the event pointing out it is the first store of american eagle outfitters here and nothing else.

This last blogger as me as well was very happy to be there.


Harajuku H&M – Jun Mitsui Architects Associates (光井純&アソシエテツ建築設計) The Ice cubes (March 2008 )


When you walk in this part of Tokyo and you’re interested in architecture you may suddenly realise you’re not alone. More than once I crossed my walk with a group of student of architecture stopping in front of one of those flagship stores. Sometimes a teacher was with them explaining the “language” the buldings were spoken.

The fact is that here the Architecture Design found its maximum expression in terms of visibility and competitive astonishing solutions. It is undoubtable that few places in the world can have such density of interesting projects side by side (another one is also here in Tokyo and it is called Ginza). Among the others you can walk in front of buildings projected by Ando, Kuma, Ito, Jun Aoki , Dytham, F.Maki, and so on.

Let’s take this building of the store H&M built only 5 years ago (precisely in 2008) called the Ice Cubes designed by Jun Mitsui Architects (光井純アンドアソシエーツ建築設計). It is something that maybe elsewhere is questionable, meanwhile here is is full of sense. To understand completely the project a deep study seems to be necessary. It is obviously “catchy” but the same can be said for the worst of the Love Hotel in town as well.


In other words, its beauty remains somehow related to this unique environment where the designers are challenging each others year after year, more precisely week after week.

I mean it’s not beatiful in a absolute sense (and it is possible to say so for any building in the world?) but there are some choices about the “ice look like” coat that are really a rare thing to see. I would say it is another variation on the “transparent” character of the shops in this town, that makes it remarkable.

A sketch of the project, some data and details can be found in this japanese blog.

From another japanese blog here is another picture shooted before the sunset. A list of the architect works is here from his official website (you must see the Ginza De Beers flag store building please).

I had a chance to walk often in this area of Tokyo but I didn’t post all the pictures yet due to the high density I mentioned above, later on I am surely will.



Tokyo Opera City , about 1999 by Takahiko Yanagisawa( 柳澤孝彦 TAK建築)


I haven’t been inside the Toko Opera City (monday is closed even for a short visit,  the Japanese Wikipedia voice is better than its english version) because when I went there it was close besides it is a huge complex which deserve another visit.

It is aprivate investment mainly by NTT who hold the hegemony position in the network sector. There is a mid-size mall called Gallery, a Concert Hall, with different venues, an Art gallery and…just a skyscraper above of them (probably I miss something else since a year has passed).

 The architect previously (1994) projected another pubblic salient cultural spot here in Tokyo, the Contemporary Art Museum (東京都現代美術館 )about whom I will write in a later post. They have some hidentical features: the large stone walls are sporting themselves esuberantly, and they remind me somehow the japanese ancient defense Castle walls. Even if they are only adorning the indoor/outdoor hallway, they fulfill perfectly the welcome function.


 His wikipedia japanese page lists many works in different japanese cities and our subject is included. In concordance with this main entrance he used marble coating in the entrance halls. Different colored patterns create elegant effects amid the luxury that sparkles from everywhere.

Last you must see the outdoor simple japanese stone garden, which is really compelling. It has a water square just below the art Gallery Café (I recall the same position for the garden at the MOT ) that let flow your thoughts very far, bringing back something from your remote brain neurones thus preparing at the best for the experience you are going to live or just to entrench the vibes you had felt inside the art space or during the theatre show.

Yes by the pictures you can tell it, it was Christmas.

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The National Showa Memorial Museum (昭和館 )named Showa-kan by Kikutake Kyonori( 菊竹 清訓 )


I haven’t been yet inside the Showa Museum (the japanese wikipedia voice is short) because I need my wife with me to expound its content despite this visitor refers that the visit lasts only half an hour.

The museum is about how was the life in the Showa period that is grossly means during the war although the Showa ended only in 1989.(272 words)

This post is more about Kyonori Kikutake whose interview in the book surprised me a lot. As the interviewer was presenting in the short preface, Kikutake, who passed away only two years ago, was speaking frontally about political controversial issues as his stance was clearly on a extreme right positions. (This was my first time I read something like that, since I am not usually looking for political books, as an Italian I got so bored of politics as you may easily imagine.)

The importance of Kikutake, is mainly linked to the Metabolist movement, which is a turning point , 1960-61, in the japanese contemporary architectural history. Younger architects, such Jun Aoki for instance, argued that nowadays japanese are missing some charismatic thinkers like him.

Here is to say that maybe the Showa-kan is not a beauty itself, but at least gave me a reason to write the first post about the father of the movement who lead to other beauties, by the way Toyo Ito was a former apprentice in his studio.

The pictures I took are also about buildings you can see from the Showa kan. (253 words).

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Tokyo Big Sight (東京国際展示場) by Shimizu corporation or Sato Sogo ( 株式会社佐藤総合計画)


This is difficult to describe. I mean we went there for the Tokyo Toys fair in order to see and admire the japanese advanced technologies applicated for children. It was obviously crowded despite that we had the chance to enjoy it, and had even some relaxed time at the end. At 4 p.m., closed time, my son and me played soccer with an inflated ballon over a green carpet that was on the main area at the first floor. Few minutes before there were thousands of people watching the show of “kawai” monsters and robots who greeted the onlookers.

I have been at Tokyo big sight (the japanese wikipedia voice is more comprehensive) other times but this was the first time I appreciated the project. Other times I was concerned about his greatness. Although those my instinctive architectural concerns, yesterday I found a point of view where the whole project came to be seen from another dimension. This just thanks to my child who lost the balloon in a little water-mirror-like garden.

Better pictures than mine can be found in this blog by mr. Micheal John Grist.

This guy went to an exhibition of interiours. He took a nice picture in the night of the entrance Arc.

Here at least one nice shot of the interior connection between pavilions.

Somebody on yahoo answers says this is the Architect who designed and I found another link that lists his major works from the Japanese Institut for Health Care Architecture.

Here the analogies with the centre Pompidou.

From here you can have a sense of what is Odaiba scenario today. It is an artificial island, previously envisaged than realized.

Although wikipedia assign the project to mr. Sato Sogo (株式会社佐藤総合計画 ) it seems weird there aren’t many references to him, because this is a hughe project, actually a landmark for Odaiba if not for Tokyo. It has been finished only in 1996.

If you are curious you may want to look to this questionnable project called Koko plaza, in Oosaka (大阪市東淀川区東中島1-13-13 ) where some aesthetic solutions are similar to the major Tokyo big sight. Hetgallery is a magazine for architectural works in Oosaka, (i.e. Ando is from Oosaka)

Last this interesting architectural photo hunter, has a tremendous archive of japanese buildings.


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a new match wood with transparency: Takeo Kikuchi shop at Harajuku by Jo Nagasaka, schemata architects

Sincerely this is the first time I have seen this match. It is not a rule but here architects tend to be “monomaterial” and when it comes to create they’d rather to use less than more…and you already know why. So as to say when they use the window frame to compose a transparent facade they go often for easy tracks. The steel uprights that could be different nuances of silver, black or white, sometimes even blu.

IMGP5807  Mr. Nagasaka , his web site here, chose to use the wood side by side with the steel. It is an audace choice, and it is a winning mix. The effect is that he did realize holes in the transparent continuum which clearly connectto the inside where the same kind of wood is used

for the shelfs among the other furnitures. You can see both doors and windows made by that wood. My bet is that is maple tree or pine, I am sure somebody can guess better than me. This fact was a precise choice in order to let the natural air come inside in instead of using only air conditioned.

A litlle garden in the backyard has been added to connect with the nature. I believe he reached his point, and the shop is somewhat leading to a more warm atmosphere that you would expect from a shop situated in this cutting edge area of Tokyo. He is from Osaka and maybe this marks a difference.

This building is only recently opened – winter 2012- in the harajuku surroundings and it is a salient feature of the area without being designed by a star architect.

Here others information by a fashion magazine.

Here others picture from an architecture photo net magazine.

Here another exhibition by Schemata Architects


Close to this addres it should be the T.kikuchi shop