Monday, December 13, 2010

The Top and Bottom of the Swatch Building

I recently re-visited the Nicolas G. Hayek Center (aka the Swatch Building) in Ginza. Created by that Japanese architectural wizard, Shigeru Ban, it is a fantastic solution to the nearly impossible problem of showcasing seven of the company's best-selling brands on a prominent but narrow parcel amid Ginza, Tokyo's high end shopping district. Ban's competition-winning building begins with a four-story void connecting the streets at the front and back of the property. It is also the staging area for seven elevators, each one a tiny, satellite showroom leading directly to the brand's boutique above or below grade. If you would like to read more about the building, here is the link to the piece I wrote for Architectural Record shortly after the building's completion (

The top of the building is crowned with a grand party room overlooking the city. A precursor to Ban's unique building for The Centre Pompidou Metz that opened earlier this year, the room is covered with a wavy roof supported by woven steel strips that morph into organic, tree-shaped, see-through columns doubling as conduits for drain pipes etc.

Accessed via stairs or an elevator cab lined with bands of the colorful clocks all buckled together, the Swatch shop anchors the bottom of the building. The basement-level boutique was not designed by Ban but by Swatch's worldwide space planner. Sorry Swatch people, this was a missed opportunity. Just think what Ban could have and would have done.

No comments:

Post a Comment