Tokyo, Shinjuku – The monumental Tochō (Hommage to Kenzo Tange)

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(Shinjuku, The famous Tokyo Tower behind my back. Photos taken at the Observation Deck of the Tochō building , at 202m, July 2016)

The monumental edifice of the Metropolitan Government of Tokyo, the famous Tochō is located in Shinjuku. The building consists of a complex of three structures, each taking up a city block. The tallest and most prominent of the three is Tokyo Metropolitan Main building No.1, a tower, 48 stories tall that splits into two sections at the 33rd floor. The building also has three levels below ground. 

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The design of the building (which was meant to resemble a computer chip) was made by the famous Japanese Pritzker Prize winner, the architect KENZO TANGE and the building was completed in March, 1991.

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The other two buildings in the complex are the eight-story Tokyo Assembly Building and Tokyo Metropolitan Main Building No.2, which has 37 stories. The two panoramic Observation Decks, one in each tower on floor 45 (202 meters [663 ft] high), are open to public and contain lovely cafes, gift shops and exhibition hall.

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It was the tallest building in Tokyo with 243 meters [797 ft], until the Midtown Tower was completed in 2006.

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Kenzo Tange was one of the most significant architects of the 20th century, combining traditional Japanese styles with modernism and designed major buildings on five continents. Tange was also an influential patron of the Metabolist movement.

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“It was, I believe, around 1959 or at the beginning of the sixties that I began to think about what I was later to call structuralism”, (Plan2/1982, Amsterdam)

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Tange designed a large civic center with a plaza dominated by two skyscrapers. These house the administration offices whilst a smaller seven-storey building contains assembly facilities. In his design, Tange equipped all three buildings with state-of-the-art building management systems that monitored air quality, light levels and security.

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The external skin of the building makes dual references to both tradition and the modern condition. Tange incorporated vertical and horizontal lines reminiscent of both timber boarding and the lines on semiconductor boards.

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