Why design buffs must visit Tokyo, ‘an architectural riddle of a city’

Prada, tokyo
Prada, Tokyo / © Scott Norsworthy

Walking along a quiet Tokyo lane lined with low-key apartments, I suddenly spot a sight as surreal as it is unexpected. A vast abstract jigsaw puzzle of thousands of crisscrossed wooden slats rises from the pavement – a cross between an oversized bird’s nest and an about-to-tumble game of Jenga.

Stepping inside the plant-filled interior is no less extraordinary. Fractured shafts of light illuminate countless angular timber slates interlocked with such stability that there is not a single nail. Even more surprising than the fact it hasn’t fallen down is its purpose: in true abstract Tokyo style, this contemporary space is not a modern art gallery or a company HQ: it’s a pineapple cake shop. Of course it is.

Such architectural inventiveness is currently being showcased at London’s Barbican Centre, in the exhibition The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945. Nowhere is it more evident than in Tokyo, an architectural riddle of a city. Just hearing the name of the Japanese megalopolis calls to mind instant images of cloud-brushing skyscrapers and flashing neon billboards. […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.

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