A Striking Tokyo Tower, From Inside Out

With most architectural projects, it's the building and its position in the urban landscape that gets noticed.
20 April, 2017
The nine-story Dear Ginza tower in Tokyo designed by Yohihiro Amano is drawing attention for those reasons and more.
The challenge to Amano Design and their project collaborators – including the requirement to make the back side of a building on a service street as attractive as those facing Ginza Central Street – resulted in a design that uses two exterior layers, with perforated aluminium panels over a layer of glass curtain wall. The interior uses that perforated aluminium to throw patterns on the walls and windows.

From the street, the Dear Ginza is wrapped in lightweight geometric folds, calculated with the careful precision of a computer algorithm to create a pleasing design that achieves the best sustainability performance while using the least amount of material across the 15,555 square meter building.
Images: Architizer
What the architects were clear about, though, is that fixing the aesthetic problem presented by a narrow and nondescript building in the middle of an unsightly block wasn't just a matter of improving the streetscape.

"Considering the views from the inside, simply obtaining openness with glass seems futile, since the outside scenery is hopeless," the Amano team explained. "The façade becomes a part of the interior decoration and obviates the need for window treatments such as blinds or curtains. By using a double skin, reduction of the air conditioning load and the glass cleaning burden was also intended."
The decision to soften the angular aluminium façade with floral graphics embedded in the perforations means that from the inside, those patterns fall on the windows, walls and floors. The sunlight projects flowers and vines into the commercial building, which is set up for smaller-size shops and offices, so that walking the halls can be a bright and uplifting adventure. Consider the impact to a creative professional, who is still sitting in a partitioned cubicle – but at Dear Ginza, light and shadow passing through the perforated aluminium create a background web of honeycombs connected with the flower patterns.

The visual interest continues at night, with LED lighting installed between the glass walls and the façade. From the outside, the Dear Ginza office tower looks like a completely different building when the sun goes down and the patterns are backlit instead. The building owners use multicolored lights depending on the season, and the tower may appear awash in blue, green or red across the year. For those inside after dark, meeting with clients or putting the finishing touch on a design project, the effect is striking.
Amano said the owners wanted something with a "slight feeling of strangeness" that would attract passers-by to the building, since it is tucked on the back side of a busy shopping and arts district that's a destination for tourists and locals alike. It was their hope that the Dear Ginza project would, in effect, extend that district into the next street and beyond – despite the scenario they described as hopeless. That was especially true for pedestrians, who found the service entrance atmosphere unwelcoming.

Those goals were achieved using smart design practices, sustainable materials and an innovative approach. The façade has changed the profile of the urban street, but when viewed from the inside out, the Dear Ginza difference has as much impact for its occupants as it does for those admiring it from below.
Banner image: Architizer