2003 – Prada Aoyama – Herzog & de Meuron

The Swiss architects decided on to focus on vertical volume containing the maximum permitted gross floor area so that part of the lot acreage can remain undeveloped. This area will form a kind of plaza, comparable to the public spaces of a European city.

The shape of the building is substantially influenced by the angle of incidence of the local profile. Depending on where the viewer is standing, the body of the building will look more like a crystal or like an archaic type of building with a saddle roof. The ambivalent, always changing and oscillating character of the building’s identity is heightened by the sculptural effect of its glazed surface structure. The rhomboid-shaped grid on the façade is clad on all sides with a combination of convex, concave or flat panels of glass. These differing geometries generate facetted reflections, which enable viewers, both inside and outside the building, to see constantly changing pictures and almost cinematographic perspectives of Prada products, the city and themselves.

But the grid on the façade is not simply an optical illusion; it is actively incorporated in the structural engineering and, in conjunction with the vertical cores of the building, it supports the ceilings. The horizontal tubing stiffens the structure and also provides more private areas for the changing rooms and the checkout on the otherwise open, light-flooded floors of the building.

The fittings with lamps and furniture for the presentation of Prada products and for visitors are newly designed especially for this location. The materials are either hyper-artificial, like resin, silicon and fiberglass, or hyper-natural, like leather, moss or porous planks of wood. Such contrasting materials prevent fixed stylistic classifications of the site, allowing both traditional and radically contemporary aspects to appear as self-evident and equal components of today’s global culture.


Name: Prada Aoyama│Type: Commercial│Architect: Herzog & de Meuron│Completed: 2003

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