9/17/2012

Tokyu Plaza; Omotesando Harajuku


Tokyu Plaza is great precedent for cities around the world that are considering developing a future urban mall or revitalizing and old failing shopping district.  This is a precedent based on design not economic turnover, simply because this was a project that enhanced an already thriving commercial shopping district.

Omotesando is an avenue lined with flagship stores of international fashion brands in one of Japan's foremost fashion streets.  As the frontal ("Omote") approach to the wooded compound of Meiji Shrine, the avenue is lined on both sides with zelkova trees.  The branches of the trees form a canopy over the avenue and provide an experience of shopping under sunlight filtered through trees.  An environment that blends architectural spaces with spaces under trees, is the special character of Omotesando designers of Tokyu Plaza felt and therefore proposed a style of environment giving emphasis to this special character.




What particularly charmed designers about the mortar-shaped terrace is how visitors naturally gravitated to the lower levels of the terrace seeking a center.  There the visitors seat themselves in the countless nooks around the terrace and share the scenery before them.  In these times when internet shopping is on the rise it is important for commercial spaces to maximize the value they posses that cannot be replicated online.  They felt that the relaxed sense of unity one feels in this comfortable environment abounding with distinctive places and pleasant physical experiences is precisely the quality demanded of commercial facilities in the future.






Memory of the site's past has been maintained in the entrance tube leading visitors to upper floors.  The tube's mirrors recall the mirror wall cladding of the Central Apartments which once occupied the site ( a building that came to symbolize Sixties and Seventies youth culture).  To see fashionably costumed people reflected repetitively in the mirrors like colorful objects in a kaleidoscope is dazzling in effect.A special sense of excitement evocative of the fashion world is produced and the ride on the escalator becomes a rich experience.  Attracted by the mirrored reflections of people passing through the intersection one peers into the tube.  On riding up the escalator a great atrium appears with tree-filtered light spilling down from a skylight in the ceiling.  Thus begins a shopping experience true in character to Omotesando.