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Architectural Tourism Handbook by Andis Sīlis

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Jewellery by Artists: From Picasso to Koons, an exhibition organised by the culture and art portal

Connoisseur's Guide · Asia · japan · Tokyo · Architectural Tourism Handbook by Andis Sīlis


Author: Andis Sīlis1 COMMENT


Perhaps the greatest amplitude of impressions, I ever have experienced is related with Tokyo. Numerous satellite cities, having grown around the historic centre, form an inconceivable urban jungle, driving insane its inhabitants, losing their traditional Japanese culture and turning into contemporary mankurts. Nowhere else I have ever seen so many nut-cases, talking aloud to themselves... or people swarming in groups of 30 or so, running from one metro station to another, most of them with a bag in one hand and a mobile phone, pressed to their ear in another. And no place else I have seen so many teens, in freaky, gaudy makeup and outfits, trying attract a bit of attention in this huge mass of 35 millions. Specialized shops sell black Gothic style clothing or another extreme - everything for those who adore peachy and pink. The city architecture seems to have its clownish moments, too, with Asahi exhibition hall / bar by Philippe Starck standing out in this context. And, indeed, it's a definitely a worth to see icon of post modernistic architecture.

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Enormous masses of people has turned Tokyo's public outdoor space into extremely noisy and cluttered up madhouse - all the façades in squares are turned into huge electronic advertisement displays, cars and road signs beep and gives out some robot-pronounced warnings, megaphoned voices of sellers scream about discounts, and everything twinkles and glitters in neon lights. Each of 23 municipal centers has its main street junction, the size of Central Station square in Riga, cram-full of people as during fireworks display of the state anniversary celebrations. To receive a total architectural shock, just have a look at skyscrapers, squeezed onto tiny building plots, with façades covered by demented amount of details, resembling a flock of skinny teens in search of their own identity. Add to this picture all possible types of transportation, pushing forward simultaneously on four levels and a severe feeling of nausea is almost guaranteed.

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Despite of total town planning chaos (in Tokyo, unlike in Riga, there are almost no restrictions) the city features outstanding architectural experiments.
Perhaps you know that the most popular ones among recently built couture stores are Armani Casa by Tadao Ando, Prada by Herzoga & de Meuron and Dior store designed by SANAA (best of all to be seen at night), as well as Toyo Ito's Tod's, located on Omotesando Avenue, which roused a revolution in the traditional column / cover tectonics.

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Nearby located is also Ando's Omotesando Hills and GYRE building by MVRDV, housing luxury shops. Ito has designed also Mikimoto store in Ginza, featuring peculiar holes in its facades. Tokyo costs for a square meter are not to be expected in Riga anytime soon, and even longer we will have to wait for such level of masters to come up with their daring searches for new architectural expressions. The essence of Tokyo phenomenon is to be noticed at any cost, yet, in most cases it leads to barely comprehensible jumble of façades. Though, pay attention to quality of details, as most of the major star-architects agree that only Japan has managed to maintain high construction standards.

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A problem with Tokyo is that many outstanding objects hide behind typical high fences, being almost invisible from outside public space. It may easily happen that you travel half a day to see a project, featured in architecture book, yet it turns out that you cannot see anything; therefore it is better to get information in advance.

There is few building to be seen, designed by world-famous architect Shigeru Ban - moreover, Swatch tower and Glass Shutter House are accessible for closer view.

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The most recent SANAA contribution is a city dwelling complex - Moriyama Houses and correctly elegant Seijo Town Houses, pretty astonishing for Latvian mentality as well.

For seekers of new experiences, I suggest spending a night at one of the capsule hotels. The most famous one is an icon of Japanese metabolism architecture, featured in any architectural history book - The Nakagin Capsule Tower by Kisho Kurokawa - hurry up to see it, as recently I have read press releases, bewailing over its planned demolition.

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Visited: France

Je suis étudiante en Ecole d'Architecture et je travaille sur la Glass Shutter House mais je n'arrive pas à la localiser sur google maps... Pouvez-vous m'aider ?*Merci !

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