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Dramatic Spanish Columns & Curved Glass Facade in Central Tokyo, Designed by Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura

January, 2021
United Arrows & Sons, Harajuku, Tokyo © Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura

Nestled in the backstreets of Harajuku and positioned along a main road, United Arrows & Sons is one of the world’s most renowned fashion boutiques carrying the future of fashion on its racks. With garments from leading to emerging designers, the interior presents an exciting global offering that has long ensured it one of Tokyo’s top destinations.

Yet its own unassuming structure is so exceptional in design, almost effortlessly, that it is easily overlooked. Designed in 1992 by Spanish architecture firm Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura for (World Company Ltd), the building’s tall European columns and transparent, curved glass facade presents a surprising form, complementary to Tokyo’s existing eclectic landscape. The architects noted on the site and design, “With a unique, industrial sense of order and a regular, well-defined interior, the building contrasts with the surrounding urban fabric, a neighbourhood in which no other building compares in height, form, scale, or material.”

Spanning a site area of 1,300 sqm, the structure presents five floors, a bar, and a restaurant. Notably, the building features an internal walkway that allows for access from two opposing streets. The interior pathway divides the building into two volumes, where it connects again on the top floor, providing a completely new view over existing floors and the surrounding neighbourhood. The navigation is intentionally explorative, encouraging customers a sense of flexibility and a greater freedom of movement throughout the various pathways and perspectives. Whilst the walkway is intentionally functional for structural flow, it also offers a moment of calm from the surrounding retail inspired by traditional Japanese courtyard gardens. Bofill Arquitectura explained, “The intimate, inner sense of space relates to the Japanese tradition of tsuboniwa, or formal Japanese courtyard gardens.” Indeed providing a complementing balance between the dramatic Colonial columns and a sense of Japanese nature and zen. 

United Arrows & Sons, Harajuku, Tokyo © Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura
United Arrows & Sons, Harajuku, Tokyo © Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura
United Arrows & Sons, Harajuku, Tokyo © Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura

3-28-1 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku 155-0001
Tokyo, Japan

United Arrows & Sons, Harajuku, Tokyo © Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura
United Arrows & Sons, Harajuku, Tokyo © Ricardo Bofill Taller Arquitectura
January, 2021