Omotesando Street is recognized nowadays as a powerhouse in the world of fashion. Its particular urban fabric is famous for its conglomeration of iconic, although individual luxurious boutiques.
But how to insert a new building able to do both, act as a tribute to this urban context and represent fashion as displayed in Omotesando? How to make the fashion museum an extension of the city?
As a programmatic catalyst for its context, the fashion museum is envisioned as a vertical version of Omotesando Street; a Vertical Omotesando. In the 100 meter-high museum tower, the avenue is reinterpreted as a network of shuttling elevators, platforms, escalators and stairs that connect a series of horizontally projected volumes. Acting as floating boutiques, the enclosed nature of those spaces stimulate the environment of exclusivity typical of high fashion and design. In them the main programs are displayed; fashion galleries, administrative offices, a runway area and a skybar on the highest level.
While the programmatic volumes seem to float over a void, the remaining space reveals a series of circulation features that make the public interact with the Japanese gardens, and with the multiple wall projections that display fashion related shows and movies. One of the key features used to navigate through the building is an elevating platform or Moving Catwalk. The Moving Catwalk and the other elements of circulation define an unconventional way to wander through the building without the predictable form of the museum experience. As in an urban context, the individuality of the visitor is highlighted; in vertical Omotesando, the visitors can decide their own trajectory through all the building.
The moving catwalk receives the people in the main lobby and distributes them through the floating galleries, reaching on its last levels the runway and skybar which overlook the city. Throughout the exhibition spaces, the public acquires a protagonist role as the exhibitions become fully complete only when The Moving Catwalk levels off inside these spaces.
On the runway floor the moving catwalk becomes not only part of the seating area, but also acts as a visual connection with the backstage rooms of the runway, opening a domain of fashion usually inaccessible to visitors.
In Vertical Omotesando, by means of a circulation network connecting the floating programs a dynamic relationship between fashion and the public is created, enhancing even farther the participation of the visitors. In this fashion museum for the 21stcentury, the experience of the visitor moving through the building becomes the fashion show; a contemporary urban spectacle.
Project Name: Vertical Omotesando
Architect: WAI Architecture Think Tank (Nathalie Frankowski and Cruz Garcia)
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Program: Fashion Museum Tower