Omotesando is home to a series of flagship stores for major fashion brands. These spectacularly decorated sheds seem to concentrate on the development of the façade and are designed as giant advertisements. The Gyre, on the other hand, provides real estate flexibility, while maintaining an iconic exterior. Circulation routes connect every level together and with external terraces, creating a new shopping experience, the vertical promenade.


Location: Omotesando, Tokyo, Japan 

Year: 2005-2007

Competition Client: Mitsubishi Corporation UBS Realty, Tokyo, Japan

Design Phase Client: Takenaka, Tokyo, Japan

Program: 9,000 m2 shopping complex, including boutique retail space, service space, restaurants, terraces and parking

Budget: Undisclosed



GYRE Shopping Center

5-10-1, Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan



Recent developments in the Omotesando shopping district could be characterized as a spectacular series of buildings, each of them a box with a magnificent façade and often modest interior. Most of these buildings are flagship stores for major fashion brands. They seem to concentrate on the development of the skin, the façade and are designed as giant advertisements. They are the architectural equivalent of supermodels. But like supermodels, they can also be intimidating because of their beauty.


How can a new building here compete with these developments? How can it make a critical comment on them? And can such a building be more than mere decoration?Why not pick up a where an earlier strand of development left off: the Spiral Building by Maki in 1985 followed by YM Square building around the corner from Omotesando, in Harajuku in 2001. These buildings focus on the vertical movement of the visitors and are more public, less exclusive or intimidating than fashionable ‘name-brand’ buildings. But the real qualities of these buildings are not directly visible from the street and they lack the iconic exterior qualities of more recent Omotesando stores. Can we combine an open character with an iconic exterior and get the best of both typologies?


The new building needed to provide real estate flexibility, serving one or several occupants or companies. It should, therefore, communicate on both scale levels, on the level of the building as a whole and on the level of the independent shops inside the building.The program consists of 7 floors each with a surface of 60 percent of the total plot. By twisting these floors gradually around a central core, a series of terraces emerge connected by stairs and elevators that are placed outside the volumes. They create a twin pair of two vertical stepped terraced streets, on each side of the core. One is for ascending and the other for descending. The route will spiral upwards from Omotesando Street and then descend towards Cat Street, activating both streets.


These two routes are connected at every level through the block, bypassing or crossing a shop or a series of shops around the inside atrium. This creates an attractive spectacle from outside. It produces a highly iconic and sculptural figure a building that attracts and invites people, not only at the street level but also towards companies and destinations higher up. It allows equal access to all floors. Combining a public route with a new iconic silhouette in Omotesando Street, it offers spectacular views of the surrounding district. It is a new destination, and a new way of shopping: a vertical promenade.



Design: MVRDV - Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs and Nathalie de Vries

Design Team: Jacob van Rijs, Stefan Witteman, Stefan de Koning with Chris Lai and Nacho Gonzalez, Rosa Llados, Julia Sulzer and Morgan Jacobsen


Co-architects: Takenaka, Tokyo, Japan

Structure: Takenaka, Tokyo, Japan

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