Tokyo Photo Gallery: Roppongi Hills

“Japan’s largest urban redevelopment project.”

Roppongi Hills

A “vertical garden city” for the people, or gated community of 1%ers? Still not clear on this myself. Maybe a bit of both? Mori Tower stands as the centrepiece of the complex, 54 floors of mostly office space with top-shelf tenants including Apple, Barclays Bank, Google, Lenovo, Nokia, and The Pokemon Company. True, Mori Art Museum and Skyview is open to the public, but access is by way of a separate entrance. Also true there are a variety of facilities around the base of the tower, including shops and restaurants, a movie theatre, a stroll garden, and event space, again all open to the public – though separated from the surrounding neighbourhood by walls breached in a couple of places by staircases and the glass, guard-tower-like Metro Hat.

Whatever you think of real estate developers razing apparently run-down residential neighbourhoods for experiments in urban planning — and I still haven’t made up my mind — Roppongi Hills offers some fine commercial art, architecture, and people watching in a part of the city better known for gaijin bars and dance clubs – and other, more dubious denizens of Tokyo’s nightlife.

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