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The Architecture of Omotesando

With Tokyo's impressive array of high-end fashion and jewelry stores has come an equally astonishing collection of beautiful buildings. A 20-minute walk along the Omotesando promenade from Aoyama to Harajuku will take you past several stand-out structures. Start at the Prada flagship on the south-east end of Omotesando. The Swiss-based Herzog & de Meuron team created this building of concave and protruding diamond-shape glass panels that gives it a honeycomb-like effect. Next door are the similar glass-and-metal buildings for Chloé and Cartier. Part of Chloé’s facade is hidden behind wooden bamboo-like slits that tilt and jut high into the air at random.

Walk toward Shibuya on Aoyama-dori—on the right is the Ao Building. At night, the glass exterior becomes a curtain of blue, green, and purple lights, recalling the aurora borealis. Or walk on Omotesando toward Harajuku, where on the left side you will see the white translucent box that is Dior. It was designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA, 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize recipients. Moving projections play on the building during most of the year. Hang a left on Meiji-dori and you won’t miss the Audi Forum’s "Iceberg" Building. The sharp geometry of the blue glass structure was inspired by ice, crystal, and plastic bottles. Finally, just on the north side of Meiji-jingu crossing is the H&M building, which appears to be a tower of stacked ice cubes. The cubes glow softly from day to night and reflect the dynamic design of the city that surrounds it.

Updated: 01-2014

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