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Omotesando Hills, Tadao Ando, Tokyo, 2005

Omotesando Hills is one of Omotesando's latest forays into the world of luxury-eccentric architecture for retail shops (e.g. Herzog and de Meuron's Prada Building). It occupies a long stretch of Omotesando, partly obscured by trees, and with only a few retails shop on the outside. The repeating glass panels on the external facade aren't very exciting, though they are dressed up at night with a light display that emulates silhouettes of people's legs walking (video). There is also a small stream of water that flow adjacent to the building and flows along the slope of the street. One consequence of the sloped street is that the retail shops on the outside gradually climb up the facade of the building as you walk alongside.

Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando

Ando connects the interior to the outside by echoing these external design elements: walking, slope, trees, and water. A odd speaker stick fills the mall with ambient water noises, flowing silhouettes of leaves are projected onto the floor, and images of stick-figure people walking adorn many of the walls. Slope is the connecting design of the interior in the form of continuously ascending ramps set around a thin triangular perimeter. The ramps create a series of convergence lines at the apex that are fun to photograph, though I must admit they aren't quite as impressive in person. A long stairway fills the apex of the triangle while escalators occupy the base. They, too, are fun to photograph.

Omotesando Hills - Ando Omotesando Hills - Ando

Omotesando Hills - AndoNothing can change the fact that the interior is ultimately a mall. Retail shops line the outside perimeter, though there position is made slightly more difficult because of the continuous slope. Like Ando's Collezione down the street, Omotesando Hills has a difficult problem: it's hard to transcend the nature of a shopping complex, even if you throw water and trees at it.

Not all have appreciated the new mall. Many of the rants I've read against it center on the fact it replaced the old Dojunkai Apartments. And by old, I mean 1927 old. Although there seems to be general agreement that the apartments were dilapated, some saw the apartments as a sign of an old cultural past of Omotesando that should be preserved. I only have the perspective of someone who has seen the new and I remain neutral: Ando's building fits in with the current luxury eccentric character and could even be called tame in comparison, but it is difficult to be enamored of a mall.

Ometesando Hills photos

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