Heatherwick Studio designs a giant planted pergola in Tokyo’s Toranomon-Azabudai district

Japan’s tallest skyscraper, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli, is also part of the district’s redevelopment.

September 16, 2019 |

Courtesy DBox for Mori Building Co

The redevelopment of Tokyo’s Toranomon-Azabudai district has officially begun. 

Heatherwick Studio has designed the public realm and lower-level podium architecture, landscaping, and retail for the project site, which will span more than eight hectares and include a 6,000-sm central landscaped square. The project will include a mix of office, residential, retail, a school, and a temple.


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In an effort to bring harmony and create a distinctive identity to this area of Tokyo, Heatherwick Studio devised a pergola-like system scaled up to district proportions to organize and unify elements of various sizes. This allows for significant green space at both the ground level and climbing up the podium buildings without sacrificing connectivity to the ground. 


Heatherwick Studio pergola Courtesy Heatherwick Studio | Darcstudio.


The undulating structure echoes the form of the project’s valley setting, rising like a sloping hillside before puncturing the ground to allow natural light to pour deep into the basement retail zones. The pergola will rise approximately 141 feet and include seven floors above ground and six below. It is Heatherwick Studio’s first project in Japan to go into construction.


Interior heatherwick studio pergolaCourtesy DBOX for Mori Building Co.


“As a way of combining an architectural construction system with significant amounts of nature we developed the idea of a garden pergola scaled up to district size,” said Thomas Heatherwick, Founder, Heatherwick Studio, in a release. “This concept has allowed us to bring an overarching logic to an eight-hectare piece of Tokyo whilst also making space for facilities such as housing, shops, hotels, spas, a school and a temple within the sections framed by the grid.”


Pelli Clarke Pelli skyscrapersCourtesy DBOX for Mori Building Co.


The district will also include three skyscrapers designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the tallest of which will rise approximately 1,082 feet and become the tallest building in Japan. One of the other two towers will rise approximately 862 feet and become Tokyo’s second tallest tower.

Around 25 to 30 million people are expected to visit the area every year. The project broke ground on Aug. 5, 2019 and is slated for completion in 2023. Mori is developing the district.


Pergola exteriorCourtesy Heatherwick Studio | Darcstudio.


heatherwick studio pergolaCourtesy Heatherwick Studio | Darcstudio.

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