Tokyo Kabukicho Tower appears like a giant animated water fountain
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Tokyo Kabukicho Tower appears like a giant animated water fountain

10 Apr 2024  •  News  •  By Gerard McGuickin

Tokyo-based Yuko Nagayama & Associates designed the expansive facade of Tokyo Kabukicho Tower, a 48-story skyscraper in the Japanese capital’s Kabukicho entertainment district. The building’s distinguishing form appears like a giant animated water fountain.

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Daici Ano

The 225-meter-tall (738 feet) tower structure was designed by Tokyo-based architectural firms Kume Sekkei and Tokyu Architects & Engineers. The building’s total floor area is 87,421 square meters (940,992 square feet), including five basement levels. Tokyo Kabukicho Tower stands on the former site of Shinjuku Milano-za (Tokyu Milano-za), a venue that led the entertainment scene in Kabukicho for almost 60 years. The tower is a mixed-use entertainment and hotel development, the first of its type in Japan.

photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano

Tokyo Kabukicho Tower is described as “the largest entertainment complex in Japan” with a host of facilities, including a cinema, theater, live venue, restaurants, and two hotels (there are no offices). Yuko Nagayama & Associates designed both the tower’s distinctive facade and a number of its interior spaces. The tower’s chosen design theme is a mix of “water” and “fountain” — Kabukicho was originally a swamp and an area with many fountains. A fountain that was once part of Cine City Square, a plaza in front of the tower, inspired the studio to incorporate this emblematic element into the facade’s design. “[It is] a symbolic tribute to the vitality and energy that emanates from the people in Kabukicho,” says Yuko Nagayama, “a fountain that symbolizes the thoughts of people springing up from the swamps of Kabukicho.”

photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano
photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano

Tokyo Kabukicho Tower’s playful fountain-like image lends the building an unconventional, even friendly,  appearance when compared with traditional skyscrapers. The building’s sprouting glass facade is printed with a pattern of ceramic dots (a ceramic frit) in gradations of size to resemble a fountain spraying water into the air. “Below these, meticulously detailed ceramic-printed wave patterns adorn the glass surface, while arches drawn along the window perimeters, using gradient shading, express the motion of spouting water,” explains Yuko Nagayama. The angle of the glass changes to control the reflection of light. More than 4,000 printed glass panels represent the fountain from Cine City Square.

photo_credit Yuko Nagayama & Associates
Yuko Nagayama & Associates
photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano

The base of the tower is the height of the former Tokyu Milano-za theater. Here, the facade is made of cast aluminum with a lace-like design that incorporates traditional Japanese waveform motifs. The reddish-brown color is also a nod to the color of the former theater.

photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano
photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano

Yuko Nagayama’s work on the tower’s interior includes the first-floor entrance and passageway with custom-made ceiling panels created to resemble waves. The studio designed the first-floor lounge of the Bellustar Tokyo (a hotel on floors 39 to 47). Continuing the water theme, a chain-link mesh on the lounge's windows has the appearance of a waterfall. In the Theater Milano-Za (on floors 6 to 8), the studio designed the foyer and bar — the walls of the foyer are covered with aluminum tubes, crafted to evoke the image of a fountain.

photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano
photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano
photo_credit Daici Ano
Daici Ano

 

Bibliography (online reference):

Touring Tokyu Kabukicho Tower - (2023) World-Architects. Available at: https://www.world-architects.com/en/architecture-news/insight/touring-tokyu-kabukicho-tower (Accessed: 10 April 2024).