Guide Tokyo's Contemporary Architecture

Tokyo is an architectural playground, bridging the traditional and modern

Though there sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason to the juxtaposition of buildings, the cityscape is dotted with striking examples of contemporary architecture. Many are clustered around the upmarket shopping districts of Aoyama and Ginza. You could spend days exploring the many adventurous examples, but here is a list of must-sees:

Taito Ward Asakusa Cultural Tourism Center

Echoes of old Edo

Architect Kengo Kuma's approach combines natural materials and a respectful approach to the local history and urban landscape. The result seems immediately at home in the environment. The very functional tourism centre built in 2012 echoes the surrounding temple architecture, with layers of stacked "roof" shapes.

Sunny Hills

A spectacular wooden nest

A unique structure by Kengo Kuma and Associates, this Zen space in Aoyama is dedicated to pineapple cakes. Enjoy cake and tea while admiring the interior. The building is constructed from 3D wooden grids that appear to grow across the steep site. The result, especially when lit up at night, is spectacular.


A glowing fashion fantasy

The iconic Prada flagship in Aoyama shines like a Christmas bauble, made up of convex, diamond-shaped glass tiles. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron in 2003, fashion is spread over six levels of luxury sci-fi interiors. The same firm designed the Miu Miu store opposite in 2015, with a very different concept, based on traditional Japanese architecture, with a striking copper roof.

National Art Centre, Tokyo

A contemporary temple to art

With its undulating glass facade, this national museum of art in Roppongi, resembles a futuristic wave. Inside, giant concrete cones and walkways seem to defy gravity. Designed by Kishio Kurokawa in 2007, one gets the sense of being inside a sci-fi movie set. With world-class exhibitions, a large shop and several eateries, it's like a city unto itself.

Nezu Museum

A conversation with the past

In a sensitive redesign by Kengo Kuma & Associates in 2009, this museum in Aoyama, dedicated to traditional Japanese art, bridges the gap between Edo period architecture and the modern city. Taking cues from the expansive Japanese gardens and teahouses at the back of the museum, the design uses traditional materials like wood and bamboo, with generous natural light.

Tokyu Plaza Ginza

New luxury, traditional service

This shopping mall in Ginza was inspired by traditional Edo Kiriko cut glass patterns. Designed by Nikken Sekkei in 2016 over a whole city block, the faceted facade reflects light in all directions. Inside, a soaring glass lounge space offers wonderful views over Ginza. There is also a calm rooftop terrace with an elegant cafe and pool.

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