The Architectural Grandeur of Omotesando, Tokyo

Feb 13, 2015 0 comments

Omotesando is a tree-lined avenue located in the Harajuku and Aoyama district in Tokyo, stretching from Meiji Shrine in Aoyama-dori to Harajuku station. Omotesando is a prime location for haute couture brands like Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton, but even more impressive than Omotesando’s vast collection of fashion and jewellery stores are the stunning architecturally ambitious buildings these stores occupy. Flanked on either sides are buildings with stylized glass facades, sleek angles and carefully crafted support, designed by famous architects and recipients of the Pritzker Prize, the highest possible honor an architect can get. Omotesando is a single neighbourhood with more buildings by great modern architects than anywhere else. Its sidewalks are like fashion show ramps stalked by Tokyo’s most stylish citizens who drive Maseratis and shop at Dior. Walking down the street of “Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées” is both an impressive and humbling experience.


Here are some of the highlights of Omotesando.

Audi Forum Tokyo

Designed by Creative Designers International, the Audi Forum is nicknamed “the iceburg” because of its crystalline form and soaring height.


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Tokyu Plaza

An ambitious building complex that houses fashion shops like American Eagle Outfitters and The Shel'tter Tokyo with a roof-top public park and an entrance featuring a spectacular wall-of-mirrors.


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Dior Omotesando

French fashion house Dior's flagship store in Tokyo, designed by Pritzker Prize laureates SANAA. The building is surrounded by transparent glass walls set in front of a translucent wavy acrylic screen, sandwiched between horizontal white bands at unequal heights. At night, the stacked layers of the 30-metre-tall design glow with different intensities.


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Left: Photo credit / Right: Photo credit

Tod's Building

The Tod's building is L-shaped and wrapped in a skin of criss-crossed concrete braces.


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Prada Building

Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, also Pritzker Prize winners, Prada’s flagship store in  Omotesando is a five-sided, six-storey building with facade of diamond-shaped glass panes, which vary between flat, concave and convex “bubbles”.


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Omotesando Hills

Omotesando Hills is a luxurious shopping mall and residential space designed by 1995 Pritzker recipient Tadao Ando and contains over 130 shops and 38 apartments. Designed to blend in harmony with the landscape, the building is roughly the same height as the zelkova trees lining the street. An atrium stretching three floors above and below ground level cuts through the commercial space.


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Designed by Netherlands-based architecture firm MVRDV features a stack of floors with each floor twisted in relation to the floor beneath, forming a unique spiralling promenade. The name “Gyre” itself means “twist” or “spiral”.


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Hugo Boss

Designed by renowned Japanese architect Norihiko Dan, the Hugo Boss building is shaped like an hourglass with gigantic columns surrounding the facade.


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Sunny Hill

Sunny Hill is a shop specialized in selling pineapple cake, a popular sweet in Taiwan. Its outer facade as well as its interiors is encased in a criss-cross of wooden logs, resembling a basket. Over 5000 metres of wooden strips were used to construct the precise 3D grid that wraps around around the outer walls and ceiling of the three-storey building.


Photo credit: Daici Ano


Photo credit: Daici Ano


Photo credit: Daici Ano


Photo credit: Daici Ano


American accessories brand Coach’s store designed by OMA New York is a glazed cube with a herringbone-patterned display system. Each modular box is filled with an item from Coach's latest collections, which include outerwear, footwear, jewellery, handbags and other accessories.


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Sources: Tokyo Cheapo / City543 / Go Tokyo / For 91 Days


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