Tokyo Façade Frivolity

The curve of a closed eyelid, the outline of a nose, an unmistakable set of lips: enough to discern the outline of a singer, covering, along with the notes floating up from her mouth, almost all of a multistory building in Akasaka. Halfway across Tokyo, a family of turtles somehow scales the vertical wall of an apartment building in Shinjuku West. The two façades may have little in common otherwise, but both are exceptional in their respective environments — touches of whimsy in neighborhoods best known for their relative seriousness and severity, where staid office suites, the official aura of embassies, and sometimes too tastefully-restrained hotels combine to form a neutral cityscape deferential to the business conducted therein.

With Tokyo’s blazing boulevards of lighted ads largely confined to the hubs around the Yamanote Line, the rest of the city center — the donut shaped region surrounding the moat of the Imperial Palace and its garden — is much like these dour districts, forming a monochrome metropolis of modest, modernist glass and concrete boxes that’s punctured only by the occasional evocation of Tokyo’s brighter, brasher side. In this, the city seems to follow the pattern set by its population: the occasional levity of one of its nonconforming façades is like the staccato sight of an ostentatiously clad club girl venturing out by way of the same subway car that dozens of similarly-suited businessmen are using to make their way home.

This entry was written by Christopher Szabla , posted on Saturday September 04 2010at 01:09 am , filed under Architecture, Art and Design, Asia Pacific and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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