Using a Ricoh GRD III and a Nikon DSLR to photograph streets, people, architecture and anything else that catches my eye.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Crystal Tower - Osaka

Japan, in my opinion, is not a country of great architecture.  I have always been slightly disappointed with the overall style and aesthetic of their major city buildings. Whereas the rest of the modern world is creating some incredible new shapes and forms, changing and breaking all the traditional rules; Japan still tends to be quite conservative in their new developments, sticking to the general rectangular format and somewhat drab concrete based materials.  Tokyo, the largest metropolis on the planet (36m pop.),seems to sprawl horizontally for over 100 kms from the harbour to the mountains; and consists largely of concrete low rise, with various clusters of medium height towers.  None of these buildings, apart from a couple of recent exceptions, are exactly breath taking examples ultra modern architecture.  There is a recent business area development, called Shiodome, which has shown what is possible when Japan's architects are a little braver.

Underwhelming Tokyo Architecture

I have to point out of course that Japan is one of the most earthquake prone places on earth. This is the main reason why the buildings do not strive to reach the clouds, as they do in China and the Middle East.  Never the less, I am still surprised that a country renowned for having one foot in the future, does not display it's futurism through it's buildings.

It may be, however, that the Japan does not feel that it has to build so high to prove a point of status and power, in the same way that China and Dubai do. (In fact, Dubai has countless skyscrapers over 1000M tall, but most of them are empty. The whole Dubai dream may be a scheme with illusions of grandeur). Japanese people are not awe-inspired by size and height, by exterior decor and grandiose design. They are more likey to be impressed by the interiors of the building, the quality of the decor and the practicality of purposeful design.

A city does not attain greatness just through it's buildings. Tokyo is an amazing place...   exciting, unwordly, futuristic, chaotic, clean, safe, efficient, nosiy, fun, massive.  It is a city built for people. It has culture, history, food from every part of the world, more shops than anywhere in the world, music, theatre, comedy, grafitti, transportation which works properly. It has amazing sub-culture, youth culture, fashion.  I could go on. An arial shot of Tokyo does not do it justice. The real Tokyo is at street level. I shall save that for a future post.

This post has wandered off target to be honest. It is titled Crystal Tower, Osaka.

Osaka, is the second largest city in Japan; and is generally a lot more industrial in it's nature. There are a few interesting architectural examples, but on the whole it suffers from a similar conservative design. There is, however, one building which I have always found attractive.  It is the flagship of a group of office buildings at the Osaka Business Park. The style is incredibly simple, rectangular, and mirror glazed. I think that the proportions of the building are perfect.  The best thing about the building is the way in which it reflects the sky, changing colour in an almost chameleon like manor; sometimes contrasting and other times almost disappearing.

This is Crystal Tower.


s.c said...

Beautiful pictures of the crystal tower. It is funny that you can see a little green in the middle of the highway on the first picture . So not everything is from concrete over there.

Bill Wellham said...

There is a little green left in Tokyo, but land is limited in the area so nearly everywhere is built on. They have been building out into the sea for a few decades now too.

I think parks and green space is very important for any city... breathing space for the city users.

Lee said...

Agree fully with the special quality of the Osaka Crystal Tower. I worked on the 27th floor, near the window, overlooking the Osaka Castle. In an otherwise grimy, grey concrete world where windows look onto the next building, the peace and ambiance were amazing. I once heard that crystals draw in some sort of cosmic energy-- I wouldn't be surprised if this building was designed with such energy in mind.

Michael Gatton said...

Wow, don't remember seeing this post before, thanks for pointing me here! I think this building has more of its own color embedded in the glass, somehow, than the one in New Jersey, which seldom stands out from the sky the way this one in Osaka does. This one also certainly towers above everything around it.