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Pelli Clarke & Partners completes Japan’s tallest skyscraper in Tokyo


US studio Pelli Clarke & Partners has completed Japan’s tallest skyscraper, the Mori JP Tower, as part of the Azabudai Hills development in Tokyo.

At 330 metres high, the glass-clad Mori JP Tower is Tokyo’s first supertall skyscraper and the tallest building in Japan, exceeding the 300-metre-tall Abeno Harukas in Osaka, also designed by Pelli Clarke & Partners.

Mori JP Tower by Pelli Clarke & Partners
Mori JP Tower has a rounded silhouette

Located in Tokyo’s Minato ward, Mori JP Tower forms part of the Azabudai Hills development that Pelli Clarke & Partners masterplanned in collaboration with Japanese developer Mori Building.

Aiming to create a new centre in Tokyo with accessible green public space, the development contains two other skyscrapers by the studio and a series of buildings with undulating green roofs designed by Heatherwick Studio.

Azabudai Hills by Pelli Clarke & Partners
It forms part of the Azabudai Hills district

The skyscraper has a curved facade that tapers at the ground and its peak. It is topped by a petal-like crown informed by lotus flowers.

“Our buildings always do two important things: they reach the ground in a certain way and they reach the sky in a certain way,” Pelli Clarke & Partners cofounder Fred Clarke told Dezeen.

Japan's tallest skyscraper in Tokyo
The 330-metre-tall skyscraper is the tallest building in Japan

According to studio partner Mitch Hirsch, the Mori JP Tower has a large structural core and floor plate typical to skyscrapers in Japan, which makes it wider than the slim skyscrapers often seen in London and New York.

Pelli Clarke & Partners designed the building’s curved silhouette to counter its wide appearance and added vertical bands of ventilation louvres to the centre of each facade, visually dividing it into four thinner sections.

Mori JP Tower by Pelli Clarke & Partners
Vertical bands visually divide the building into four parts

“We shaped the building so it begins to taper to meet the sky and create a crown as a silhouette, which becomes a character recognisable to the city,” said Hirsch.

“We also shaped it to taper coming down so when it finally reaches the ground, it becomes something that’s manageable in terms of proportion,” he continued.

“The second thing we did was to take this building and to crenellate it in the centre of each facade, creating four bundles,” Hirsch added. “It makes the building more slender and graceful.”

The north-facing side of the Mori JP Tower is entered through a green plaza decorated with water features and outdoor seating. An open corner on the south side has an escalator connecting the street to commercial space on the upper floors.

“As it reaches the ground, it becomes very transparent, welcoming and accessible,” said Hirsch.

“The building needs to be welcoming to the community, both from the street side and also from the public green space and gathering space.”

Japan's tallest building in Tokyo by Pelli Clarke & Partners
It is Tokyo’s first supertall skyscraper

The top 11 storeys contain apartments, and elsewhere in the skyscraper, there are offices and restaurant facilities for employees with views across Tokyo’s skyline.

The adjacent skyscrapers in the development contain additional accommodation. The 53-storey Residence A includes 320 apartments and a luxury hotel, and Residence B will have 970 apartments upon its completion.

Mori JP Tower in Tokyo by Pelli Clarke & Partners
Mori JP Tower is topped with a petal-like crown

Pelli Clarke & Partners designed the Azabudai Hills masterplan to bring movement and activity to the site.

It replaced existing housing units with residential skyscrapers, as well as green public space, retail, a food market, art galleries and The British School in Tokyo.

A skyscraper in Azabudai Hills, Tokyo
The building tapers towards the ground and the top

“We didn’t really rebuild the centre, we actually created a centre,” said Clarke.

“There wasn’t a centre here, there was an old neighbourhood with a really beautiful set of topographical features that no one had seen or felt or understood for centuries, mostly due to the fact that it was covered with this carpet of very small, low houses.”

“It was scenic and beautiful in its own way, but clearly not destined to last.”

Azabudai Hills skyscraper in Tokyo
A glazed corner leads from the street to commercial space in the skyscraper

Pelli Clarke & Partners has completed a number of other skyscrapers for Mori Building in Tokyo. The studio aimed to create a “branded skyline” with the curved shape of the Mori JP Tower, similar to its other skyscrapers, making it distinctive from the rectangular skyscrapers seen elsewhere in Tokyo.

“If you look at the skyline of Tokyo it’s almost always very simple rectangular prisms, so our idea with Mori was to create a branded skyline where you can look across the skyline and tell that there has been a Mori objective,” said Clarke.

Other tall buildings by Pelli Clarke & Partners include the tallest skyscraper in Mexico City and the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, which was named “best tall building” in 2019.

The photography is by Jason O’Rear.


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