1989 – Unhex Nani Nani – Philippe Starck and Makato Nozawa

Architect Philippe Starck allegedly conceived this as a green monster rising from the Florida swamps, but it seems more likely he had in mind the rubber-suited Gill-Man in the “Creature From the Black Lagoon”, the 1954 B-movie classic set in the Amazon. Whatever its inspiration, Unhex Nani Nani ist definitely a fish out of water: a copper-sheeted Barbapapa-like blob on an otherwise ordinary street in the middle of Tokyo. A five-story office building with commercial space on the street level, it was intended for Unhex, a construction company eager to project a different image. “Nani nani” is Japanese fpr “what is it?”, and puzzlement has indeed been the general reaction to the building.

Name: Unhex Nani Nani │Type: Commercial / Office│Architect: Philippe Starck / Makato Nozawa │Completed: 1989


1989 – Asahi Super Dry Hall – Philippe Starck

This iconic building designed by interior designer turned architect Philippe Starck, is one of Tokyo’s most notable landmarks. It stands emblematic for the so called bubble era when known Western architects and designers were being recruited by large companys to create eye-catching works. The building has earned itself several unflattering nicknames among those who disdain its flashy self-important style but it is sure to please devotees of Starck’s sleek and elegant style. Completed in 1989, it serves as a symbol of the Asahi Beer company.

Perched above the Sumidagawa river, the building is a shiny black form with a giant gold flame rising up from its flat roof. The building itself is covered with highly polished black granite. Its windows are small portholes which are almost invisible from a distance. The walls of the building curve gently outward towards the top, creating in effect a giant pedestal for the gold flame on top. The flame itself, from which the beer hall and restaurant within take their names, rises several stories and looms over the Sumidagawa river as a gilded monument to Asahi beer. It is constructed of metal and weighs over 300 tons. Inside, the beer hall is a two-story space with fat, tuber-like columns.

Name: Asahi Super Dry Hall │Type: Entertainment│Architect: Philippe Starck│Completed: 1989


1989 – Tokyo Sea Life Park – Yoshio Taniguchi

Tokyo Sea Life Park is a metropolitan aquarium set in an enclave of (relatively) undeveloped land on the coast of Tokyo Bay. The distant view of a dome standing itself near the water lures the visitor even as he steps of the train. Drawing closer, he is enticed by a 100-meter wide curtain of water and by a glimpse once more of the dome. The visitor comes to the ticket gate. Once past the underground gate, he is hooked. The open sky tugs at him, and he climbs up to ground level. From there, he is gradually and inexorably reeled in, across a bridge and onto the rooftop plaza of the aquarium.

Tha aquarium is in plan a circle 100 meters in diameter, and the plaza occupies a quarter of that circle. The rest is taken up by a pond, and its water is visually continuous with the water of the bay in the distance.  The tops of tents suggest sails on the water. The glass dome, standing in the middle of the roof, is octogonal plan, and galvanized steel trusses curved into circular arcs meet at the top.

Name: Tokyo Sea Life Park │Type: Entertainment│Architect: Yoshio Taniguchi│Completed: 1989


1989 – Collezione – Tadao Ando

Collezione is a commercial complex at the famous Omotesando street by world famous architect Tadao Ando. Ando has penchant for mazes, which he has indulged in the memorable effect in such works as Time’s in Kyoto and Galleria Akka in Osaka, but Collezione has a complicated circulation system that is especially disorienting. It ma strike some as challenging and others as simply confusing.

The geometry is based on two rectangular boxes that are spread 13,5 degree apart, a cylinder that interlocks with one of the boxes and a cube that bridges both boxes. Stairs wrapped around the cylinder and stepped terraces arranged between the two boxes provide access to the various spaces. Gaps between the volumes introduce light into its nether regions. An exercise club occupies the first and second floors and showrooms, galleries and the owner’s residence take up the top two floors.

Name: Collezione │Type: Commercial│Architect: Tadao Ando│Completed: 1989


1987 – TIT Centennial Hall – Kazuo Shinohara

The Centennial Hall was founded as part of the Tokyo Institute of Technology’s 100th anniversary celebrations. From the very beginning of the planning process, the location of the building was of great concern, and many serious discussion were held on possible positions before the current site was agreed upon. No matter how many times the proposed site changed, the designer, Kazuo Shinohara (then professor at the TIT), had in mind a specific image of the building: a cylindrical metallic surface gleaming above the grove.

Shinohara posessed a singular architectural vision, akin to philosopher of science in pursuit of an ideal that would remain unaffected by the passing of time and changing of fashion. The founding of the Centennial Hall was to showcase the coexistance of the two contradictions – beauty and chaos – in a real urban location. Shinohara later said that, understanding the inherent risk, he felt full of tension throughout the whole design process; the building might have falle into the real of the grotesque with the slightest mistake.

Despite his anexiety, the completed building acquired a great reputation and can be recognized as one of the best architectural achievements of the 20th century.

Name: TIT Centennial Hall │Type: Education│Architect: Kazuo Shinohara│Completed: 1987


1986 – Cinema Rise – Atsushi Kitagawara

A cinema and retail complex, RISE is a surrealist work that is as much scuplture as architecture. Its architect Atsushi Kitagawara was educated at Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music and opened his office in 1980. Situated on a street awash with pedestrians, the exterior of four-story structure has a little bit of everything: Corten-steel and copper panels, translucent canopy, and cast-aluminium “drapery”. Inside, a mazelike system of circulation, ornamented with morde drapery, provides access to two movie theaters.

Name: Cinema Rise │Type: Entertainment│Architect: Atsushi Kitagawara│Completed: 1986


1985 – Udagawacho Police Box – Edward Suzuki

Udagawacho police box in Shibuya was designed by architect Edward Suzuki and opened in April of 1985. The koban is practical as well as photogenic: the owlish “beak” does double duty as a sheltered overhang allowing officers to park their bicycles on a dry patio. Though shoe-horned into a highly-developed corner of one of Tokyo’s busiest shopping neighborhoods, the Udagawacho police box seems to fit right in while remaining easily identifiable to people seeking assistance. The iconic architecture resembles an owl with a iron mask.

Name: Udagawacho Police Box │Type: Security│Architect: Edward Suzuki│Completed: 1985


1985 – Spiral Building – Fumihiko Maki

Spiral is a building by architect Fumihiko Maki in Aoyama. It was commissioned by lingerie company Wacoal and was completed in 1985. It is a multi-use building, with gallery space, multipurpose hall, cafe, restaurant and bar, salon, and shops. The defining feature of the building is a seemingly floating spiral ramp (15m in diameter) that encircles the rear gallery space and climbs to the second floor. The exterior facade of aluminum and glass reflects the jumbled nature of the surrounding streetscape. Also known as the Wacoal Art Center, Spiral is a nexus of cultural life in Aoyama, presenting music, art, film, and theater events.

Fumihiko Maki defined the concept of Spiral Building as follows: “In this building I wanted to represent the chaos of the city and for that purpose I took the typical elements of modern architecture, such as cube, cone and the hemisphere and combined them in an integral way.” At first glance the building looks inspired by the architecture of Richard Meier: the color white, the use of overlapping patterns and geometric shapes, the aluminum finish panels among others and even the use of an undulating volume in the facade. Yet here the rigorous geometric and rationality of the American architect is not perceived. There is also a reference to Peter Eisenman, the deconstruction and re-composition of the design elements. But inside the building, the spatial complexity that other deconstructive works convey is also not perceived, but rather an orderly succession of spaces.

Name: Spiral Building │Type: Entertainment│Architect: Fumihiko Maki│Completed: 1985


1985 – Setagaya Art Museum – Shozo Uchii

This two-story museum park is spread out to integrate the building with the landscape and to reduce its apparent volume. The design is obviously strongly influenced by the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Long, low copper roofs emphasize the horizontal. A sunken garden and pergolas with diszinctive triangular supports mediate between the interior and exterior spaces. Stoneware tiles embedded in precast concrete panels give the building an earthy look.

Name: Setagaya Art Museum │Type: Museum│Architect: Shozo Uchii│Completed: 1985


1984 – Wacoal Building – Kisho Kurokawa

1984_Wacoal Building_Kisho Kurokawa 

An office and warehouse facility for a maker of women’s lingerie, this building is in a prominent location near the imperial palace. The client wanted to make the building  as tall as possible, and the architect created a nine-story structure with a distinctive profile. The walls are glass and Neopariés, a crystallized glass material. The bottom three floors accommodating the warehouse have tilted walls. Show windows face Hanzomon Dori. Showrooms and offices are on the fourth to eight floor, and a reception room is on the top floor under a double-layered vault. The round window on the top has pattern based on astronomical chart from an 1826 Japanese text.


Name: Wacoal Building │Type: Office│Architect: Kisho Kurokawa│Completed: 1984