Ceramic skyscraper creates calming sanctuary in bustling Tokyo
High-profile Scandinavian firm Snøhetta recently revealed plans for a new skyscraper in Tokyo, Japan. Named the Shibuya Upper West Project, the mixed-use tower is designed to offer a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of the bustling metropolis and will be defined by a ceramic and glass facade that's broken up by green terraces.
The Shibuya Upper West Project will reach a maximum height of 164.8 m (540 ft). To put this into perspective, the city's tallest skyscraper, Toranomon Hills, rises to 248 m (814 ft) – the Tokyo Skytree is over double that height but isn't a skyscraper.
The building will be situated next to Tokyo's famous Shibuya Crossing, which is a particularly busy part of the city that's also due to host a wooden department store by Foster + Partners. The new skyscraper's terraced step area is meant to reference the distant foothills of Mount Fuji, while its ceramic facade nods to traditional Japanese building techniques. Though ceramic facades aren't common, KPF, UNStudio and SHoP Architects have all produced them and the material offers an unusual appearance, plus it can be produced locally in several parts of Asia.
The Shibuya Upper West Project's interior will contain retail areas, a luxury hotel, rental apartments, and art and cultural facilities. There will also be several amenity areas in its green terraces, plus a rooftop garden.
"With its prominent location, where Tokyu Department Store's flagship store currently resides, the project sits at the intersection of the serene high-end residential area of Shoto, the cultural neighborhoods of Kamiyamacho and Tomigaya, and the vibrant Shibuya district," explained Snøhetta. "Nestled at the edge of Shibuya where energy meets calm, the project aspires to become Tokyo's newest 'Urban Retreat' – a sanctuary of peace and relaxation in the bustle of the city. Key features include The Hive, a vibrant and lively atrium anchoring the heart of the project, and The Sanctuary, a healing space with lush roof terraces for visitors to relax and unwind."
Snøhetta also says that the building will meet the "highest possible sustainability ratings." Given the firm's output has included some remarkably impressive energy positive buildings, the green design should be significant, though we've no further information on its sustainability at this early stage.
Shibuya Upper West Project is due for completion in 2027 and will be created in collaboration with Nikken Sekkei, and Tokyu Architects & Engineers.