Where is the best architecture in Tokyo?

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Nicholas Coldicott

There are some spectacular buildings in Ginza, where the world’s biggest luxury brands (and a few of the well-heeled budget brands) have the money to splash on architectural one-upmanship. Renzo Piano designed the Hermes store, Jun Mitsui made a wavy facade for de Beers, 2013 Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito riffed on jewels for the Mikimoto building, and Shigeru Ban made a truly innovative building for Swatch that uses elevators as showrooms.

The big brands are at it again on Omotesando. Look for Toyo Ito’s building for Tod’s, which gets its inspiration from the street’s elm trees, and SANAA’s Dior store. Herzog and de Meuron’s honeycomb Prada building popped up in 2003 and people have been paying more attention to the facade than the fashion ever since. And more bizarrely, Japan’s Nursing Association has a building by the late Kisho Kurokawa that now looks like a first draft of his must-see undulating glass creation for the National Art Center Tokyo in Roppongi.

Near the Art Center is one of Tadao Ando’s standout Tokyo creations: Design Sight 21_21. It appears to be just a sliver of concrete and glass in the garden of the Midtown complex, but most of the museum is buried underground.

And don’t miss the Aoyama Technical College near Shibuya. It looks like an oversized Transformer fell out of the sky and crashed onto a grey office building.

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