So that brings us to the end of Tokyo Architecture Week. We’ve explored the whimsy of Phillippe Starck’s la Flamme d’or, the innovative Capsule Tower, as well as a few fine examples of pet architecture. We’ve even gone (briefly) religious. But apart from the tiny Billboard Building, we’ve failed to explore the architecture of Tokyo’s chief pastime: shopping.
The Prada building in Aoyama is one of many luxury brands that have used starchitects to design their Tokyo flagship store. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron (creators of Beijing National Stadium, Madrid’s CaixaForum and San Francisco’s deYoung Museum, to name but a few), the self-titled Epicenter uses visual effects technology to create animated surfaces that change according to sunrise and sunset times, as well as moon cycles. By day, light levels inside the store are regulated for optimal product viewing, and when night falls and Tokyo is given brief respite from its retail obsession, the building changes to a nighttime design best viewed from the street.
Other examples of retail starchitecture include Tod’s at Omotesando, by Toyo Ito, which uses concrete cross-bracing to mimic Tokyo’s love-to-hate-them power lines (below, centre), while over at Ginza, Chanel called upon Peter Marino for their 10-floor LED screen, turning the entire building into a piece of installation art.