Business

Mori unveils ¥580 billion project to bring record-breaking skyscraper and urban greenery to Tokyo

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

The developer behind Tokyo’s landmark Roppongi Hills is betting on another upscale project that has been more than 30 years in the making and will require a ¥580 billion investment.

Mori Building Co. unveiled Thursday the details of an urban redevelopment project that will feature a skyscraper expected to be Japan’s tallest, on top of offices, shops, residences, a luxury hotel and an international school, and furnished with 24,000 square meters of greenery.

The contractor aims to use the as yet unnamed environment-focused complex, scheduled to open in the Toranomon-Azabudai area in 2023, to boost the capital’s competitiveness as a major international city and make the living environment more friendly.

“In an era of global intercity competition, I think people agree it’s crucial that Tokyo somehow needs to get ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and London,” said Mori Building CEO Shingo Tsuji during a news conference in Tokyo.

“Tokyo needs a facility that boasts a power to attract people, goods and capital. We think this kind of massive redevelopment will strengthen the profile of the city.”

A groundbreaking for the next-generation “Hills” project was held earlier this month, after 30 years of negotiations and planning with landowners.

The Toranomon-Azabudai project will be sandwiched between two iconoclastic skyscrapers, Roppongi Hills and Toranomon Hills, on its west and east, respectively.

“As it has many foreign firms’ offices and an overwhelming number of non-Japanese residents (compared to other areas), this area is very international,” said Tsuji, adding that it has strong potential to become a new international hub in Tokyo.

Once the new landmark debuts and is linked to the surrounding Hills developments, the area will become more globally attractive, Mori Building said.

A rendering of the Toranomon-Azabudai project by Mori Building Co. shows its central square. | MORI BUILDING CO.
A rendering of the Toranomon-Azabudai project by Mori Building Co. shows its central square. | MORI BUILDING CO.

But Mori Building said the concept of the Toranomon-Azabudai project is quite different from the two other existing Hills projects, as its goal is to bring nature to the heart of Tokyo’s densely populated concrete maze.

The 11.6-hectare Roppongi Hills complex is bigger than the planned new project, set to occupy 8.1 hectares, but has only 19,000 sq. meters of green space. The Toranomon-Azabudai complex is planned to include 24,000 sq. meters of greenery, including a 6,000 sq. meter central square.

Creating a place like the central square in the middle of Tokyo, embodying the concept of a “Modern Urban Village,” was Mori’s latest proposal, Tsuji said.

In addition, renewable energy will meet 100 percent of the power needs of the entire facility, Mori Building said.

The green focus is said to be in line with Mori Building’s aim of strengthening Tokyo’s competitiveness as a global city.

Tokyo has been ranked third among 44 global cities, according to the Global Power City Index, compiled annually by the Mori Memorial Foundation’s Institute for Urban Strategies, which analyses cities’ competitiveness based on six criteria: economy, environment, livability, research and development, cultural interaction, and accessibility.

The environment factors, including the level of greenery in urban space and commitment to fight climate change, are seen as a weak area for Tokyo, which achieved only 29th place in the environment category.

The Toranomon-Azabudai project will also host an international school, the British School in Tokyo, to provide a learning environment for about 700 students of more than 50 nationalities,

A city that attracts foreign companies and workers needs advanced educational opportunities for expats, said Tsuji, adding that Tokyo does not have many international schools compared with other major cities in Asia.

Also, like Mori Building’s other Hills projects, the Toranomon-Azabudai complex will have skyscrapers, including a 330-meter main tower expected to be the tallest in the country, and dwarfing the 300-meter Abeno Harukas in Osaka. It will also be nearly as high as neighboring Tokyo Tower.

The towers will house offices for about 20,000 workers and 1,400 residential units for 3,500 people. Mori Building estimates that annual visitors to the facility will reach 25 to 30 million.