Tuesday, July 15
Shibuya Station, Tokyo
Architect Tadao Ando’s new Shibuya Station extension is all about making travel fun again. 'A station should be a place where visitors think "I was glad to come to this station’ or ‘that station was fascinating",' Ando says, as he examines the three-story atrium of the nearly completed building.
Ando’s design is based on what he calls a 'chichusen,' or underground spaceship. Commuters board the buried flying saucer near the top of the atrium and are carried down to the tracks at its base. 'Because this station has an atrium from top to bottom, you can easily see where you are... it gives you a sense of security,' Ando says.
An environmentalist, Ando is a strong advocate of public transport. 'Japan has the most substantial transport network in the world, even without a car you can still get around, and I repeatedly point that out, but the motor industry says: "He’s making trouble for us! He shouldn’t be talking this way." That’s the problem,' the 67-year-old says.
The environmental benefits of Ando’s new building don’t stop at getting people to leave their Toyotas at home. The design allows fresh air and light to circulate via the atrium and a ventilation shaft, and the glass-fibre reinforced concrete skin of the 'spaceship' incorporates a water-cooling system.
The combined result is a station that cuts power use and takes us back to the days when train stations were equivalent to cathedrals in the public-space pecking order.