Despite stuff like Academy Hills and an in-house art museum, most of the descriptions that we’ve read so far make Roppongi Hills seem like a it’s a playground for the gliterrati, i.e. the rich, influential, well-connected as well as tourists.
The “multi-use” part implies that you’re going to get shops, public spaces, cafes, restaurants, along with the traditional work space. It’s going to be a swank city within a city: no more commuting from Minhang to Pudong:
In the 21st century, though, Mori said, a daily commute between an office in the city and a home in the suburbs absorbs too much time for information-oriented white-collar professionals — and is not environmentally positive, either.
However, true to contrarian nature we wanted to know what the critics had to say. Adam Greenfield had this to say on his website:
For starters, the complex is simply pretentious. Conceived, presumably, as the apotheosis of early-twenty-first branding and marketing practice for real-estate development (as well as enduring monument to its builder), this is a mixed-use “environment” that has not merely its own logo, but its own identity system. It has not one but several slogans – one modestly insisting that “Tokyo lifestyles will be forever altered by Roppongi Hills.” It boasts a “unique and ambitious cultural complex.”
The Wikipedia entry has a similar criticism:
Yet the truth is that the crowds are unlikely to return once they have been exhausted by the charade of inconvenient walkways that appear almost intentionally to confuse all but those with perfect map navigational skills. The whole maze is far from being user friendly — don’t count on full protection from autumn showers or sudden gusts of wind generated by the buildings themselves.”
Greenfield’s article is interesting, and if you’ve got the time, consider reading it in its entirety. Here, are some excerpts:
And it’s this, more than anything else, that leaves me scratching my head at Mori’s acclaim among Japan’s own, generally conservative tastemakers: no agency in the land seems more eager to sell the whole place out, to pave over its unique ways-of-doing-and-being for the convenience of the AXAs and the Morgan Stanleys and their foreign legion of blue-oxford-shirted, chino’d operatives.
Is the development, then, uniquely, even perversely, Japanese? Or is it merely another pacified, pacifying site for global consumption, as distinct from the others of its kind as a Starbucks Manila is from a Starbucks London souvenir mug? It doesn’t seem to want to decide, and it’s in this sense of being caught between two irreconcilable visions of the world that the place most evokes its host culture for me.
I’d like, as a citizen of a world that includes Japan, for that culture to recover even a little bit of the attention to detail and meaning that once helped distinguish it among all humanity’s other voices: above all to design, once again, artifacts that do more with less. In our common life of constant, clamorous information overload, we need these instincts now more than ever – these solutions latent in the cultural genepool, as it were, just as valuable as the anticarcinogenic alkaloids supposedly naturally produced by rare species of Amazon flora, and every bit as endangered.
Hmmm. That’s some “artelligent” food for thought.
Also on Shanghaiist:
Welcome to Shanghai Hills!
Skyscraper Envy: Shanghai to whip out another big one