tadao ando’s complicity in corporate cultural vandalism in central tokyo. tadao ando is largely admired in the west for his architecture of uncompromising and cool minimalism. but the other side to ando’s practice is an uncompromising and cool commercialism. omotesando hills is the harajuku development which swept away one of the few remaining examples of tokyo’s pre-war embrace of architectural modernism; the bauhaus-inspired dōjunkai Aoyama Apartments, which had been built in 1927 after the 1923 kantō earthquake.
these apartments, although in sore need of restoration, could, with a will, have been preserved. what has replaced them is not the ando of the pared down cold un-dressed concrete of his more well-known works, but a monument to modern consumerism — since the initial excitement of the opening, the building now looks like any of the other sanitised anonymous cathedral-like shooping malls which have sprung up all over tokyo, thanks to the mori corporation and their vision of the urban garden.