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The vertical shopping promenade

Del: 20/10/2006

Spaces Omotesando Hills

An extension of 34.000 sq.m. of stores, restaurants and residential units in the heart of Tokyo. Omotesando Hills goes beyond the mall to become a microcosm where it is possible to annul ones self between shopping and recreation.

Omotesando Hills is the last intervention on the urban scale realised by Mori Buildings in Tokyo. It extends for 34.000 s.qm., divided among 93 stores and restaurants, 38 residential units, services and parking that have replaced a residential building of the 60s, the Dojunkai Ayoama Apartment. As for the commercial section, the stores face the spiral distance covered without a solution of continuity presenting the atmosphere similar to that of an outside shopping avenue. 50% of the stores are new brands or new incarnations of already existing brands, therefore all the concept stores are inedited and the remaining 50% flagship.

The promoter company of the intervention is active in many fields that go from the residential to the service sector, from educational and cultural venues to those for well-being and health, themes that interlace so as to create microcosms. The strongest sector among these is, without any doubt, is that of retail & entertainment, a division that has flagship realisations that date back to 1978 with the famous shopping mall Lafret Harajuku, passing from Venus Fort to Roppongi Hills, of recent construction. Which is their common denominator? The philosophy that joins these interventions has Celebration as its key word, that is, the idea of realising commercial spaces that are, above all, places where you can go for a walk, shop and enjoy the celebration atmosphere: event-places. Omotesando Hills is with no doubt the intervention where the goal is pursued in the most aesthetically evolved shape.

The project was inaugurated this past February 11th, and it is extended on the fourth of the famous Omotesando boulevards, a well-known shopping avenue, a must stop for millions of trend-conscious people. It is from the rapport with this large boulevard flanked by two lines of zelkovas that connects the exit of the homonym subway to the entrance portal of the Meiji Jingu temple, originates the central nucleus of the concept from the architecture, signed by the famous Japanese master Tadao Ando, up to the logo, realized by Tycoon Graphics.

The heart of the building is an empty volume of six floors around which there is a distributive spiral ramp extending to 700 meters, with the same slope of the outside street plan. At the centre of the big entrance there is a huge stairway connected to a multifunctional ground floor. It is the slopping stage-set of this immense theatre where all the floors follow smoothly.

Ando takes possession, renewing meanings, of the vertical Wright promenade of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In this American Museum, the choice of the vertical promenade is an act of triple denunciation: against the rigidity of the New York urban chessboard, against the museum space organised by juxtaposed boxes, against the museum concept where one enters to consume and leaves mechanically with no passion.

Side by side the Omotesando Spiral slope ramp generates an urban and community dimension, usually denied by the out of scale urban figures and outside street confusion. Here the rhythm of the slope is sweet. The atmosphere is cosy and contributes to increasing concentration. In spite of the ever massive flow of visitors the sensation is no longer of disorientation and assault, but of aesthetic enjoyment and pleasant elegance.

The finishing of the materials, predominantly stone, cement on sight and brushed steel, as well as the range of colours recall the variety of urban reality. The colour is never flat, polymeric: the colour of the material is not an added pigment for finishing. In particular the plastic materials and the shiny finishing are abolished in favour of tone sur tone colours distributed in an harmonious but irregular way so as not to give heaviness to the volumes. On the outside the faade is an immense led wall of 250 meters called Bright Up Wall, new urban landmark.

The Omotesando lovers are O-To-Na people who have a mentality that is ten years younger than their biographical identity, whose lifestyle aims at O-riginality, who love spending time To-gether and who at last appreciate their Na-tionality while maintaining a global prospective. Consequently, the commercial and merchandising mix have as an objective that of creating a reference place for selected and creative products that add fresh interpretations to their lifestyle. Underlining this concept is the philosophy of the recurrent essence, that is, the continuous practice of style focused on adding new meaning to what is traditional, authentic, high quality, etc. The architectonic hardware is completed by multisensorial software. Along the entire complex there are motorized projectors, ultra-directional speakers, maxi-screens and many other avant-garde technological devices with the purpose of creating an audio and bright landscape in continuous evolution It is interesting to note that the planning staff besides the cited Tadao Ando is also made up of a visual artist, a dj, a light designer and an agency for the promotion of events. Different competences for a place that before being a shopping centre is a media ship which is the transmission vehicle of cultural information.

                                                     Savina Nicolini
                                                                  Promotion Magazine


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