Where to see SANAA's Tokyo architecture

Where to see SANAA's Tokyo architecture

SANAA, the Japanese duo who just won the 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize, are most famous for their works outside Tokyo, but four of their creations are within reach of the city center
Since 2003, SANAA's Christian Dior flagship shop on Omotesando has glowed a tranquil white down on the shoppers below.

The Japanese architectural duo SANAA -- Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa -- recently won the highly prestigious 2010 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Most of SANAA's more famous works, such as New Museum Of Contemporary Art and The Rolex Learning Center, Ecole Polytechnique Federale, are located outside of Japan, or scattered across the Japanese countryside like the 21st Century Museum Of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa.

SANAA, however, have added much to the Tokyo landscape in the fifteen years, so here's a short guide to four of the better known SANAA buildings located in the general metropolitan area.

1. Christian Dior flagship -- Omotesando, Tokyo

Located between Omotesando and Meiji-Jingumae stations on the tree-lined Omotesando avenue, SANAA's Christian Dior flagship -- completed in 2003 -- is most marked by its luminescence. The sharp white building opened in 2003 and still manages to stand out in an area that has become a veritable trophy case of European luxury flagships.

Christian Dior Omotesando: Jingumae 5-9-11, Shibuya-ku, tel. 03 5464 6260, 11am-8pm

2. M-House -- Shibuya, Tokyo

An early work by the duo, the M-House is a residential project located in Shibuya, built in 1996. Visitors who can find the house should be careful not to disturb the inhabitants, but for those less intrepid (or more lost) the Internet is full of pictures from architecture fans who have snapped up pics of their journey. A walk-through of the house is available on the MOMA website.

M-House: undisclosed location in Shibuya-ku

3. Mutsukawa Day Care -- Yokohama

This day care center for the elderly in Kanagawa Prefecture is a long, narrow building with a flat roof -- an unusual design for this kind of basic city project. Completed in 2000, SANAA showed that sleek post-modern architecture was not the sole pleasure of luxury brands, museums and wealthy individuals. Pictures of the project are available here.

Mutsukawa Day Care Center: Mutsukawa 2-3-211, Minami-ku, Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture, tel. 045 716 0680, closest train station: Kamiooka

4. Moriyama House -- Kabata, Tokyo

Although not officially a SANAA project, the Moriyama House in Kabata, Ota Ward, comprised of ten boxes, comes from the solo work of Ryue Nishizawa. The architect meant for the owner to freely choose how to divide the boxes into living spaces and rental spaces. In a city of uniquely designed domiciles for the wealthy, this one may win the prize for most cutting-edge and memorable. 

Mutsukawa Day Care Center: Nishi Kabata 3-21, Ota-ku, unknown address but located west of an area between Ikegami and Hasunuma stations on the Tokyu Ikegami Line, Google Earth map here

W. David Marx was CNNGo's initial Tokyo City Editor. His writing has also appeared in magazines such as GQ, Brutus, Weekly Diamond, and Nylon, as well as his web joural Néojaponisme.

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