Developer: Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd
* NIHON SEKKEI, INC.
* KAJIMA DESIGN (Kajima Corporation)
* Landscape Plus Ltd.
* Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
* Uchihara Creative Lighting Design Inc.
Location: Nihonbashi, Tokyo, Japan
By Colin Galloway
The newest component of Mitsui Fudosan’s substantial portfolio of properties in Tokyo’s ultra-prime Nihonbashi district, the recently-completed Nihonbashi Muromachi Mitsui Tower is a 26-storey, mixed-use office building featuring high grade offices, a convention centre, and a well-rounded assortment of retail and restaurant offerings.
Featuring large, highly-efficient floor plates (according to the developer, the largest standard-floor exclusive areas in the Tokyo metro area), the tower also incorporates the latest sustainability initiatives in terms of building specifications, technology, and energy performance ratings. These include the latest seismic features, such as structural control oil dampers to reduce building sway during Tokyo’s frequent earthquakes.
While the architecture was variously described by the jury as “timeless”, “harmonious”, “beautifully detailed” and “premium mainstream”, there was also a sense (common to Tokyo generally) of a somewhat “conservative”, “traditional”, and even “a bit dated” approach. Notwithstanding this, the Tower was seen as “an exemplary office building built to premium standards of any building in the world, with the highest grade of technologies and finishes”.
Given that central Tokyo is full of similarly highly-rated office buildings, however, even the finest facilities can find it difficult to stand out. What swayed the jury in this case was the way the Tower has been integrated by the developer as a key part of a long-term master plan—already almost two decades in the making—to reinvent the contiguous 15-20 blocks of the local neighbourhood as a modern, smart, and resilient district.
The developer has upgraded its Nihonbashi assets with an eye to recapturing the area’s past energy, in particular by preserving or reviving historic shops and alleyways dating back to the Edo period in the early 18 th century. Other landlords in the area have followed suit, implementing changes focused on placemaking and making both their own properties and the overall neighbourhood more user-friendly.
Future plans include creation of a riverside park that will extend 1.2km along the Nihonbashi river after the Shuto expressway (which currently extends over the top of the river) is rerouted underground.
The jury noted that, while smart city projects are quite common in the context of greenfield or campus projects, implementing them in a dense urban context that is already integrated into the existing city fabric is much different challenge, and the developer’s dedication to pursuing such a constantly evolving project is a commendable commitment.
Another aspect that reflects the building’s community-oriented focus is the creation of the ‘Nihonbashi Smart Energy Project’ in collaboration with the Tokyo Gas Company. Following the lead of similar projects in other parts of Tokyo, Mitsui Fudosan has installed a large-scale gas cogeneration energy plant in the building basement. This power plant is capable of providing power and heat to 20 neighbouring buildings featuring total floor space of some 1 million square metres.
While the highly-efficient plant is stated to result in a 30 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, the main appeal of such systems, as proven during the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, is their ability to provide redundant power supplies to local neighbourhoods should the national or metropolitan grids be knocked offline during a natural disaster.
While operational co-gen facilities of this type currently represent only the tip of the iceberg compared to the city’s total power demand, more such plants are now being rolled out in various parts of the city for the same purpose, creating a patchwork of alternative energy networks that will protect local neighbourhoods once Tokyo’s next big earthquake inevitably arrives.