Japan 2012 - Asakusa Tourist Information Centre
One of the main reasons I went to Asakusa was to check out a new building by renown Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma - the Asakusa Tourist Information Centre. Like many other Japanese Architects - Kengo Kuma's design aesthetics is towards minimalism - using basic shape and form to create architecture that is devoid of too much embellishment. In recent years his investigations into construction techniques and materials has produced a series of buildings that are innovative and beautiful, and yet look effortless and unaffected.
When I first saw this building in magazines, I was really taken by the external form. It looked completely modern - yet you could see very clearly the architect's references to the traditional. The tower looked like it is made up of small Japanese houses stacked on top of each other - yet the building look almost weightless due to the clever detailing.
The external facade is covered mostly in glass, and screened by a series of large vertical fins. The fins are made of laminated wood and cut into a wedge shape so that they appear light and elegant.
On the ground floor is the Tourist Information Centre, and there are exhibition spaces and function rooms on the upper floors.
At the top of the tower is an observation deck where you get good views of Asakusa and the Sensoji Temple.