Listing 3 blog articles for the tag Tokyo.
After months of toiling over infinite housing layouts, a plethora of door and window schedules, and endless amendments to façade details, architects could be forgiven for wanting to take a break from buildings entirely: I wouldn’t say no to a vacation in the Canadian wilderness, with not a single manmade structure in sight! However, there is always that architectural geek in all of us that can’t get enough of the built environment, whether it is to soak up the history and culture of an ancient city, or snap the perfect photograph of a soaring modernist icon.
For those that fancy a break with brilliant buildings, here’s a run-down of 7 cities that should prove to be inspiring vacation destinations this summer. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so please comment with your own recommendations for architectural gems that shouldn’t be missed…
1. Barcelona, Spain
The capital city of Catalonia in Spain ticks an awful lot of boxes for architectural enthusiasts: its high density, rectilinear layout means its streets are well defined and act as a perfect urban framework for the distinctive buildings of the Barri Gòtic (Catalan for "Gothic Quarter"). Unsurprisingly, the highlights revolve primarily around the extraordinary works of Antonio Gaudi – work by the Master of Modernista forms a tremendous architectural treasure hunt throughout the central part of the city, from the mysterious roofscape of Casa Milà to the vast, ever-evolving edifice of La Sagrada Familia.
These landmarks aren’t all the city has to offer though – make time for a walk down La Rambla, one of the world’s most successful examples of pedestrian-friendly street design and full to the brim with street artists, performers, outdoor cafés and bustling bars.
Starchitect Spotting Guide: Torre Agbar (Jean Nouvel), Porta Firo Towers (Toyo Ito), Montjuïc Communications Tower (Santiago Calatrava)
La Sagrada Familia
2. Tokyo, Japan
If you are intent on snapping that picture-postcard shot of a stunning Buddhist temple in the centre of an immaculate Zen garden, your best bet is to head to Japan’s old capital, Kyoto. However, if like me you get a kick out of unadulterated architectural chaos, Tokyo is the place to be…
The sprawling metropolis is far from picturesque, but what it lacks in beauty, it makes up for in unrestrained, multi-layered vivacity. The city is formed from a series of frenetic neighbours, each with their own unique character: The glossy, high-spec finish of Ginza’s retail district contrasts sharply with Akihabara’s electric town, a multi-coloured, deafening assault on the senses. To the west, the streets of Shibuya and Shinjuku are eternally packed with people weaving through a maze of LCD screens and neon signage.
Make sure you catch a glimpse of Kisho Kurokawa’s flawed metabolic masterpiece, the Nagakin Capsule Tower, and see how many Kenzo Tange structures you can take in – start with the soaring St. Mary’s Cathedral and the splendid Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower.
Starchitect Spotting Guide: 21_21 Design Sight (Tadao Ando), Prada Store (Herzog and de Meuron), Tods (Toyo Ito), Swatch Tower (Shigeru Ban)
Electric Town, Akihabara
For sheer atmosphere and architectural anarchy, Rio De Janeiro might top the list of go-to destinations for Brazil. However, if you are even slightly allured by the modernist movement, the country’s planned capital Brasilia is a kingdom of white concrete dreams.
Designed in its entirety by Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s, Brasilia was constructed in just 41 months and inaugurated in 1960. While Lúcio Costa planned the city’s bird-shaped layout, Oscar Niemeyer designed a huge number of buildings in his own uncompromising style of modernism, including a series of extraordinary, sculptural buildings for civic and government uses.
Amongst the most remarkable are the National Congress building, with its signature half-spheres and gleaming twin towers, and the Cathedral of Brasilia, a graceful composition of parabolic columns and sweeping planes of stained glass. Further to this, there is the Palácio da Alvorada, the Palácio do Planalto, and the Cultural Complex of the Republic – all by Niemeyer, all glowing manifestations of modernist ideals.
Watch out for those World Cup crowds, though…
Starchitect Spotting Guide: None.
The Cathedral of Brasilia
4. Rome, Italy
Any number of Italian cities could grace this list, such is the country’s rich history – within the ancient monuments of Rome, the rules of classical architecture were set in stone and continue to influence vast swathes of contemporary structures thousands of years later. Tourist highlights include the elegant Pantheon, the epic Colosseum, and St. Peter’s Basilica, but perhaps the most extraordinary sight of all can be found by descending the steps into the excavated ruins of The Forum.
Whilst the Pantheon and the Colosseum are spectacular set-piece structures, the Forum comprises a vast collection of ancient fragments that gives the most tangible sense of the scale and grandeur of the Roman Empire. Don’t be fooled into thinking these ancient wonders are all Rome has to offer though – there is in fact a wealth of modern architecture here too, including Zaha Hadid’s MAXXI museum, and Richard Meier’s stunning Church of 2000.
Starchitect Spotting Guide: Auditorium Parco della Musica (Renzo Piano), Ara Pacis (Richard Meier)
5. Chandigarh, India
Like Brasilia, Chandigarh is a planned city designed primarily by just one, globally renowned architect: Le Corbusier worked for India’s first Prime Minister, Sh. Jawahar Lal Nehru, to create a utopia of modern architecture within the picturesque foothills of the Himalayas. It was the first planned city in India, and is recognised as one of the greatest urban planning experiments in the twentieth century.
Notable landmarks by the famous French architect include the Palace of Assembly, its distinctive concrete fins reflected in the surrounding pool, and the Secretariat, whose punctuated rectilinear façade bears strong similarities with the seminal Unité Habitation in Marseille.
While many of Le Corbusier’s buildings around the city have sadly fallen into disrepair, they remain striking symbols of the modernist ideology and constitute a dream for architectural photographers.
Starchitect Spotting Guide: None.
6. Chicago, USA
Following the Great Fire of 1871, architectural pioneers of the Chicago School looked for innovative ways to bring about recovery through new building techniques. Their explorations into steel-frame construction culminated in the completion of William Le Baron Jenney’s Home Insurance Building: the skyscraper was born, and together with New York City, Chicago remains a mecca for tall building enthusiasts.
A great way to view many of the city’s forest of steel and glass is on water: the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise gives you the chance to take in some true icons at your leisure, as a CAF volunteer gives the backstory to more than 50 buildings along the water’s edge. Highlights include the corncob-shaped Marina City towers, Studio Gang’s rippling Aqua Tower, and the colossal Willis Tower.
There are some gems on a smaller scale too: To the south of the city you can find Frank Lloyd Wright’s timeless Robie House, and, a little further afield, Mies Van Der Rohe’s Farnsworth House stands on the bank of the Fox River.
Starchitect Spotting Guide: John Hancock Center, Trump International Hotel and Tower (SOM), Jay Pritzker Pavilion (Frank Gehry)
7. Tel Aviv, Israel
Israel’s second most populous city has a complex history which is reflected by its unique mix of architectural styles – most notably, it is home to the world’s largest concentration of buildings in the International Style of the Bauhaus.
Known as the White City, this region of Tel Aviv has over 4,000 Bauhaus structures designed by German Jewish architects who immigrated to the country after the rise of the Nazis in the 1930s. Key buildings in the area include the Cinema Hotel, formerly a movie theatre with details typical of the period, and the Bauhaus Center, containing in-depth exhibitions on the International Style and its on-going legacy.
Outside of the White City, a host of other architectural styles are present – The Pagoda House, designed by Alexander Levy in 1925, is an enduring symbol of the Eclectic style, while Preston Scott Cohen has provided a striking contemporary extension to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Starchitect Spotting Guide: None.
The White City
Images via: Architizer
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