CREDIT Heatherwick Studio l Darcstudio
Construction has begun on an innovative redevelopment of the Toranomon-Azabudai district of Tokyo. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on August 5 2019 and the project is due to complete in March 2023. It is Heatherwick Studio’s first project in Japan to go into construction.
Situated in the Minato City of Tokyo, the studio has designed the public realm and lower-level podium architecture, landscaping and retail for the site which includes a generous 6,000m² central landscaped square.
Working with a complicated, irregular-shaped plot spanning more than eight hectares, the studio has sought to bring harmony and to create a distinctive identity that is particular to Tokyo. The team devised a pergola-like system scaled up to district proportions to organise and unify many different elements of various sizes. In this way, the design allows for significant green space both at ground level and climbing up the podium buildings, without sacrificing connectivity to the ground.
Echoing the natural forms of the project’s valley setting, the undulating structure rises like a gently sloping hillside before puncturing the ground to allow natural light to pour deep into the basement retail zones. Traditional Japanese crafts have also been referenced such as the Edo kiriko glass etching technique to ensure the project feels distinctively Tokyo from even the smallest, human-scale details.
Thomas Heatherwick, Founder of Heatherwick Studio, said:
“It’s been very exciting working on the Toranomon-Azabudai project and much of our effort has been focused on designing the public spaces that everyone will experience when they spend time in this new area. As many new developments around the world can be harsh and sterile we wondered if we could provide a more human-centred alternative by integrating surprisingly intense quantities of planting and greenery.”
“As a way of combining an architectural construction system with significant amounts of nature we developed the idea of a garden pergola scaled up to district size. This concept has allowed us to bring an overarching logic to an eight-hectare piece of Tokyo whilst also making space for facilities such as housing, shops, hotels, spas, a school and a temple within the sections framed by the grid.”