Interview

Project team

Challenge for urban development and architecture

Shinjuku TOKYU MILANO redevelopment project team

  • Hiroshi Inoue

    PA (Project architect), Development Management Department

  • Fumitake Yokoyama

    In charge of architectural design, Architectural Design Division

  • Atsushi Koguchi

    In charge of urban planning, Development Management Department

  • Tatsuya Koike

    In charge of architectural design/development planning, Architectural Design Division

  • Yuki Tomioka

    In charge of architectural design, Architectural Design Division

  • Keisuke Iwakura

    In charge of urban planning/development planning, Development Management Department

  • Ei Katayama

    In charge of architectural design, Architectural Design Division

  • Shinnosuke Hoshikawa

    In charge of architectural design, Development Management Department

  • Justin Heller

    Visualizer, Architectural Design Division

1.New project

Q. What type of project is it?

It is a project to create a new core attraction of the town on the former site of Milanoza, which was a mixed-use facility that led the entertainment scene in Kabukicho, Shinjuku. It will be a complex approximately 225 meters in height that has various entertainment functions, such as a concert hall, theater, and movie theater, a hotel function, and commercial functions.

The location of Kabukicho, Shinjuku has great potential. The city is diverse and open and has a deep history, developed cultures, variety of resources, and a great ability to disseminate information and is visited by many foreigners.

One of the most important roles for this team was to think about how to increase the potential of such an attractive town and how to harness its potential for the future.

In ordinary large-scale development projects, there are usually predetermined programs, such as offices and housing, and then we add some extra programs. However, this project does not have such process. We started by working with our client to think about what we could create to make this town more attractive and make Tokyo competitive.

2.The real joy of planning a program with a client

Q. How was this team involved in the project?

First, we started by positioning this building as an urban tourism hub and started considering what direction it should take in the future with our client. Times and society are changing at a rapid pace. Instead of applying the same old program to the building, we developed a program while analyzing and predicting changes in society.

Right after having developed a plan with the client, we drew up a rough plan and a spatial sketch and examined the effects the project could produce along with its business potential. We repeated this process multiple times. We continued our research and sketching while imagining the synergistic peripheral functions of the program, which had never been done before.

We did not go through the process of receiving detailed design requirements from the client and then proceeding with the design. We repeated the process of developing rough ideas for the design while always thinking about the future. It was highly rewarding.

We thought about how the space should function in the future while seeing and experiencing things that might give us new ideas with the client.

3.Collaboration with the government

Q. This project involves urban planning, doesn't it?

This project takes advantage of the system called the Special District for Urban Regeneration to give the building additional volume.
As most large-scale development projects are usually designed to accommodate office buildings, they are evaluated based on how much they can contribute to cities with their additional programs and to the development of urban infrastructures, such as the surrounding roads that are to be developed at the same time with the buildings. In this project, it is a bit different. The program of the building itself is highly regarded. We gave our best efforts to create a competitive scenario in order to get that kind of recognition.

The government has been thinking seriously about how to create a competitive city and how to win the competition between different cities. We and our client have also been thinking about how to make our cities more attractive. The government is not in a position to just pass judgement on the proposals of the developers. We feel that this is an important relationship between us and the government, as we both think about how the city should be. We have a strong sympathy with the government, and at times we have struggled to move forward together.

Other than applying for the Special District for Urban Regeneration, we are making efforts to apply for various exceptions. It is fun and challenging to accomplish something new. Our basic stance has been to take on the challenge with the government.

4.Process of working on architecture and a city at the same time

Q. Aren't architecture and a city two different things?

Kume Sekkei's architecture team and urban team have been working together to bring creativity to the project.
Instead of passing the baton between professional teams separately working on things like analysis of upper-level plans of the city, selecting appropriate urban development methods for those plans, deciding on an urban plan, and construction of buildings, we, as one team, have worked together to think about the city, architecture, and their contents ranging from how the city should be to places, spaces and experiences they can offer. We were able to create a more accurate scenario for the future in cooperation with our client through multi-layer thinking that cannot be achieved by dividing up our works.

5.Interactions with numerous players

Q. Is there a unique way to proceed with such a large-scale project?

First of all, the larger the projects, the stronger their connection is to the society. So, a broader perspective, analytical skills, and creativity are required. In addition, there are many players involved in this project because it involves something that has never been done before. It involves numerous people in management, those involved in content development, professionals in each small field, designers, as well as others. As a coordinator, we tried to talk to as many players as possible in working on the project.

This is a project that involves many new challenges, so it's not something that can be carried out based on past experience and knowledge alone. The players get together to hold a series of discussions, sometimes mull over certain issues, and move forward.

6.Way of working by expanding the boundaries

Q. Is there anything you are consciously working on as a team?

We work on projects while everyone demonstrates their expertise in urban planning, architectural design, engineering, and so on. I believe we should work on projects from a broad perspective while expanding the boundaries of expertise regardless of their scale.

After identifying the potential of the city and its challenges, we take a broad and integrated view of the places, spaces, and functions as well as the contents for the experience, and the potential and viability of the business, in order to realize the society of the future. Sharing this basic stance, our team has been able to exchange ideas from a variety of perspectives and sublimate them to the next level.

We share new information about not only design, but also about anything new that we see or hear, and we strike up a conversation as we go along.

It requires not only experiences and skills in design, but also flexibility in thinking. There are many opportunities for young people to take on new challenges.

As team members who love society and the future, we will continue to support our clients.

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