Kyoto to demolish 1 billion Yen EXPO 92 relic

The Danish Pavilion built for EXPO 92 in Seville and relocated to Japan in 1993 may be demolished early this year.

The pavilion was designed by Knud Holscher of KHR Architects AS and Erik Reitzel and debuted in Spain in 1992.  The town of Tanba (now part of Kyotamba town) purchased the building for approximately 1 billion Yen (about 9 million USD at the time) as a symbol for cultural exchange between the two countries. It was shifted to Tanba to a site that the then-mayor was planning to convert into the Kyoto Denmark Park. The ambitious project was considered ground-breaking but quickly turned into a white elephant.  The plans never eventuated after the mayor was caught up in a corruption scandal. The following economic malaise of the 1990s sealed the project’s fate. 

Omotesando’s Seihou Building to be redeveloped

A 51-year old retail and public housing building alongside Aoyama Dori Avenue in Omotesando will soon be rebuilt. The 10-storey Seihou Building was built in 1967 and has a total floor area of 6,075 sqm (65,000 sq ft). It is jointly owned by a subsidiary of Mizuho Bank and the Urban Renaissance Agency.

The new building will have a total floor area or 16,000 sqm (172,000 sq ft), more than 2.5 times the size of the older building.

Kuwait Embassy to be rebuilt

Tokyo will lose another one of Kenzo Tange’s works, with the Kuwait Embassy building in Tokyo due to be demolished and rebuilt next year.

The 47-year old building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kenzo Tange (1913-2005) and completed in 1970. Tange is considered one of the most significant architects of the 20th century, designing numerous modernist buildings across Japan and the world.

The 4,100 sqm, 7-storey embassy building is located in Minato ward’s Mita district. The upper floors housed the Ambassador’s Residence, while lower floors contained offices. Construction is scheduled to start in April 2018, with completion by April 2020. The new building will be 5-storeys with a total floor area of 3,500 sqm. Suga Architects Office has been selected as the design firm for the new building. Plans on their website show a glass building with a dramatic draped rooftop.

Historic Kudan Kaikan redevelopment plans announced

On September 21st, the Kanto Local Finance Bureau announced that Tokyu Land had won the competitive bidding process for the redevelopment of the Kudan Kaikan building in central Tokyo. The bidding price will be announced after Tokyu signs the contractural agreement in March 2018.

The developer will lease the 8,700 sqm block of land under a 70-year fixed-term and will build a high-rise office tower on the site. The north-eastern corner of the original Kudan Kaikan building will be preserved and retrofitted using a base-isolation system (menshin-kozo).

Maison Mita to be redeveloped into high-rise

Maison Mita, a 67-unit, 49-year old condominium in central Tokyo’s Mita neighbourhood will be redeveloped into a 77m tall, 23-storey high rise by both Mitsubishi Jisho Residence and Asahi Kasei Realty & Residence. Demolition of the current building is expected to start in December 2017 and the new building is due for completion by December 2020.

Apartment owners had been discussing redevelopment for the past 10 years.

Apartments in the older building ranged in size from 34 ~ 108 sqm, with a mixture of studio and family-oriented layouts. The building was developed by Kyoei Life Insurance and completed in 1968. Kyoei developed several Maison-named condominiums in central Tokyo in the 1960s, 70’s and ‘80s. The insurance company filed for bankruptcy with liabilities of 4.6 trillion Yen in 2000 in what was said to have been the country’s biggest bankruptcy since WWII.

2.2 Traditional machiya houses in Kyoto are demolished each day

Two renovated machiya by Kazuya Morita Architecture Studio.

Kyoto City is losing its traditional machiya townhouses at an alarming rate, with an average of 2.2 of these symbolic houses demolished each day.

On May 1, Kyoto City announced that approximately 5,600 machiya have been demolished over the past seven years. In 2016, a survey found that there were 40,146 surviving machiya in the city.

Of the surviving machiya, 14.5% are vacant and not occupied by owners or tenants, an increase of 4 points from the previous city survey in 2009. Kyoto City’s vacancy rate across all types of housing was 14% in a 2013 survey.

First heritage de-listing for Kyoto City as 90-yr old bookstore is about to be demolished

Demolition of the 90-year old Heirakuji Bookstore in downtown Kyoto will begin this month as the owner can no longer afford to maintain the aging building.

The building was registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property in 1998. The heritage listing will be removed due to the demolition of the structure. This is the first time a national heritage listing has been removed from a property in Kyoto City and the second time for Kyoto Prefecture.

Hakone modernist hotel to close next year

Hakone Hotel Kowaki-en will close its doors in January 2018, marking the end of 60 years of operations. The 224-room hotel was designed by modernist architect Yoshimura Junzo and built in 1959. The hotel’s garden dates back to 1914.

The hotel closure is due to aging buildings and facilities. The owner and operator, Fujita Kanko, operates 6 other hotels in the immediate neighbourhood, and this site is expected to form part of a larger hotel redevelopment project. It could include the adjoining Kowaki-en Horai-en Garden, which is a 16,000 sqm traditional Japanese landscape garden. Fujita Kanko acquired the garden in 2015.