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Shinjuku Escapist’s Skyscraper

By:  | August - 29 - 2017

Yi-Yun Lin, Jing Guo, Narek Mirzaei, Dung Minh Le
United States

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The representation of architecture in a city is the representation of its people. A tightly packed formation of buildings illustrated a system of human networks. Such cluster of networks illustrates the efficiency of the society, but it can also be cruel. As at times pure functionality is what a city becomes.

In many districts inside Tokyo Metropolis, one can notice formalities, traditions, selflessness for the greater good, and obedience to the strict societal norms remained persistent as the age long guiding principles in society that many citizens seemingly have no escape of. These guiding principles had made the society into an invisible beast, dominating over the general population. Individuals who cannot function to a certain standards will be shunned upon by the peers, by family, and by society. The daily burden of doing the best you could only to fit into the surrounding environment builds up within the individual. Traversing through the streets, the expression-less pedestrians, the cold concrete jungles and the formality of large building facades only sets a reminder that there are limited options for self-expression and obstacles for true human connection. The true connection an individual can really embrace are from people in the similar situation, people who also seek escapism, a temporary escape to a world that is kind, connective, and understanding.

Shinjuku station, serving as a connecting hub for public rail transport traffic between the special wards and districts in Tokyo, is the world’s busiest transport hub with an average of 3.5 million people per day. Shinjuku station is sandwiched between an area of erasure of identity and self-expression, such as the business and government district, and the infamous location of escapism, called the ‘Kabukicho’ red light district where people explore their real inner self. Such binary development of the two areas provides an exciting opportunity for an architectural development that explores the idea of escapism and individual expression for identity in a highly densified condition that seemingly oppose to the idea of individualism.  With the addition of the new skyscraper on top of the existing station, the location will become a place of a new norm, where the people express their identity and to be accepted for the things they value.

The new skyscraper will feature a curving skin with a Cartesian grid pattern that serve its primary function to create an architectural dialogue to the adjacent government and corporate buildings. Its presence is to simulate the physical form of the controlling society that minimize one’s true identity. Yet the layer is so thin that it is evident to the viewers that it is impossible for it to have much functionality and usefulness, comparatively identical in essence to a controlling society in the real world. It masks away the main programmatic development on the east side, which consists of programs that has a similar nature to what the governing authorities and societal norms deemed undesirable; such as the escapism and related activities in Shinjuku district.

The other element of the skyscraper design is the celebration of ‘reality’. The programmatic development inside the core area are similarly fragmented in nature to its adjacent urban fabric. The verticality of the assembled small building blocks is presented in such a way that is foreign due to its height, yet familiar as it seems to be a direct translation of horizontal urban formation into a vertical format. The facade-less condition allows the citizens traversing in the horizontal plane below to have a visual connection to the worlds in the skyscraper. The once hidden treasures of human desires are now glorified in the new design.

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