Tadao Ando 2006
Omotesando Hills is a large shopping and residential development that occupies much of one side of Omotesando Avenue, Tokyo's top fashion street. Any development on that scale in such a street is likely to be controversial, and Ando's Omotesando Hills has been much criticised - in part for turning its back on the Avenue and creating what its own developers describe as a 'second Omotesando' within its interior.
The development does indeed present a fairly blank face to the Avenue. Although the ground-level boutiques are accessible from the street, it's not how they are designed to be "shopped". But there is no shortage of bustle on this street (one of the fears about the inward-facing new mall), and the white facade provides a good backdrop to the street's avenue of zelkova trees.
Inside, the mall descends several stories beneath ground, but maintains a fair amount of daylight from a glazed roof over the triangular atrium. The strongest aspect of the design is the spiral arrangement of the floors. The stores along the Omotesando Avenue edge of the mall follow the gradual slope of that street, rising by half a story over the length of the mall; those on the opposite side of the triangle follow an opposite slope, so that as you walk around the triangle you have descended (or climbed) one story. So if you start at the top you can wander around the whole center without using an escalator.
Simon Glynn 2008
How to visit
Omotesando Hills is on the northeast side of Omotesando Avenue, between Omotesando and Meijijingumae subway stations.
It is open 11am to late evening seven days a week. For more information please visit www.omotesandohills.com.
Books and other web sites
For more information on contemporary buildings by major a rchitects to visit in Japan, a helpful list (including schematic map of buildigns in the Omotesando area) is provided by the Japan National Tourist Organization.
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