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Sony opens experimental ‘park’ in Ginza

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

In what appears to be an unusual mix, tech giant Sony Corp. opened a “park” in the middle of the Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district on Thursday with four subterranean levels.

Ginza Sony Park was built at the site where the Sony Building, a former landmark, once stood. The ground floor consists of greenery and looks like a standard park, but the four underground floors consist of shops and free space.

Some of the shops sell food and goods, but much of the facility’s 3,807 sq. meters of floor space is designed to let people hang out freely.

“We think such free space is what makes a park,” said Daisuke Nagano, president of Sony Enterprise Co., during a media preview of the facility Wednesday.

The Sony Building, which opened in 1966 and was dismantled last year, was used as a showroom for the company’s products, but Nagano stressed that Ginza Sony Park is neither commercial complex nor showroom.

The basement levels are surrounded by bare concrete, which makes them look like garages, and has pipes and air ducts hanging from their ceilings. Sony said the facility can be used as a space for events.

For now, a roller skating rink has been set up on the second basement floor that can be used for free until Sept. 24.

The idea of Sony opening a park-themed facility may sound odd, but Nagano said it was an experiment before erecting a new Sony building on the site. Sony plans to run the park until fall 2020, when it will start construction on the new Sony Building with an eye to opening it in 2022.

“At first, we were mainly discussing the design of the new building and how we will use it in Sony’s way,” said Nagano.

But with many other companies also developing new buildings in Tokyo by 2020, “We came to think that not creating a building for now actually fits Sony’s way,” since its culture is to do something that others don’t, Nagano explained.

Sony wants to see how the park concept will work out because it hopes to incorporate greater openness into the new Sony Building, he said, adding that another purpose is to enhance Sony’s brand image.

Asked how Sony will make revenue from the park business, Nagano said most of it will come from the shopping and advertising space.

Ginza Sony Park is open from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. everyday except Jan. 1 and admission is free.