23 November 2023

Heatherwick Studio designs its first district in Japan

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A new district in the heart of Tokyo designed by Heatherwick Studio has been opened by the former Prime Minister of Japan. The project, known as Azabudai Hills, is the culmination of a thirty-year regeneration process steered by Mori Building Co. Ltd.,
Japan’s leading urban landscape developer.

The new neighbourhood is made up of residential buildings, retail spaces, a school, two temples, art galleries, offices and restaurants, all set within 2.4ha of green, publicly accessible landscape. Heatherwick Studio is the lead architect of the
public realm and the podium level architecture.

The design encourages purposeful connections between commuters, residents
and the public, and the 8.1-hectare district is filled with trees, flowers and water features. Meandering routes and walkable rooftop slopes
invite exploration and informal gatherings.

Thomas Heatherwick, Founder of Heatherwick Studio, said:

“We were inspired to create a district that connects with people’s emotions in a different way. By combining cultural and social facilities with an extraordinary three-dimensional, explorable, landscape, it’s been possible to offer visitors and the local community somewhere to connect with each other and enjoy open green public spaces. This is a joyful and unique public place for Tokyo,
designed to be cherished for many years.”

Tokyo is a juxtaposition of old and new architecture, with large and small buildings pressed up against each other. The design celebrates this rich mixture of layers and all the variety and intensity of the city. Residents and visitors can come together and be inspired by a new landscape that includes extensive public gardens, a central square and The Cloud event space.

It is now one of Tokyo’s greenest urban areas and continues Mori Building Company’s commitment to creating garden cities where the landscape simultaneously supports nature and people. 

Throughout the thirty-year regeneration of this site, Mori Building Co. collaborated with over 300 residents and businesses to bring the district to life. Over 90% of the original tenants and businesses have now chosen to return to the new district.

Azabudai Hills is also on track to become one of the world’s largest sites to receive the preliminary WELL certification, the highest-level LEED Neighbourhood Development certification for mixed use developments, and LEED’s BD+C (Building Design/Core and Shell Development) certification.

As part of the development, Heatherwick Studio has designed its first school, The British School in Tokyo. At 15,000 sqm, this is the largest international school in the heart of the city. The design takes full advantage of the local climate with a seamless flow of outdoor learning and recreational spaces spread across eight levels, where students and teachers can enjoy working.

Neil Hubbard, partner and Group Leader at Heatherwick Studio said:

“Over the last 10 years, we have tried to get under the skin of what makes something distinctively Tokyo, whilst at the same time adding something new that’s fresh and soft to its modern built environment. We wanted to create vistas full of variety and intrigue and spaces to explore. It’s a confluence of different families of design
all brought together in one place. I can’t wait to watch people explore it.”

An estimated twenty-five to thirty million people
will visit this new public district every year.

Contact details:

Olga Dziewulska, Head of Media, Heatherwick Studio