Architectural Guide

The facade on Sakurada Dori (main street) side is exposed concrete with Travertine marble grids, with window panels which create shadow pattern according to moving sunlight.

Facade on Sakurada Dori Side

The facade on Sakurada Dori (main street) side is exposed concrete with Travertine marble grids, with window panels which create shadow pattern according to moving sunlight.


The main entrance galleria is rising five stories and going through the building to the garden in the back.

Sculpture of Horse

A Work by Italian sculptor Minmo Paladino. "Human head" attached to the back of the horse neck means "Every living nature has a soul in it".

Elevator Hall on the Top Floor

The cylindrical, glazed elevator hall unites and unifies the whole structure and emerges in the shape of a cupola.

Terraces on the North Side

The six rhythmically sloping terraces at the back of the building. These, with their rows of rose-filled vases, evoke the architecture of Italy while harmonizing with the old Japanese garden which slopes down from the rear towards them.

Building Specification

Design Architect Mario Bellini
Production Architect Yukitaka Kawazu
Lighting Planner Kaoru Mende
Sign Planner Tetuichi Tomonaga
Construction Obayashi Co.
Completion December, 1991
Floorspace 11,874m²
Building Structure SRC: 9 floors plus 2 basement levels
Height GL+34.5m
Parking Lot (Undergournd) GL-44.86m, 42cars available
Finishing Facade: Exposed concrete, Travatine
Finishing Galleria: Exposed Travatine, Lavagligia
Public space: floor/Marble, wall/Incoust

Architectural Design

From Mario Bellini 1991.12

When I was taken to the spot, I was immediately attracted by the immense difficulties of the task: to design what was to be the Tokyo Design Center on an area that was both important and extremely difficult. Facing a very wide avenue, the Sakurada Dori, and visible every day by millions of people from the nearby platform of Gotanda Station, the site is a remarkably irregular one. It is partially obstructed by an existing commonplace building which interrupts the site's continuity, whilst on the side behind the street, it is confined, up to third-floor level, by a surprising Japanese garden that climbs steeply.
I quickly felt that the central theme of the architectural composition was to give unity, Identity and depth to the whole building while taking advantage of the unusually divided street front and of the differences in height and landscape. Two wings, almost two towers, squeeze the extraneous building between them until it actually ""disappears"" as a result of their clear and sharply recognizable design.
A public galleria crosses the new building diagonally, thereby also visually connecting the station and the urban level with the Internal raised garden.
The galleria distributes and interconnects all the access points and most significant parts of the Design Center, stressing its role, form and position like a gigantic X-ray. Among these the most Important, due to its function as a continuous vertical pivot, is the cylindrical and glazed elevator hall. This cylinder surfaces and emerges in the shape of a cupola from the solid terraces stepping downwards which, with their rhythmic rows of terracotta vases, respond to the old Japanese garden as an emblematic garden-building in the Italian style.

Mario Bellini Profile

Mario Bellini, the architect was born in Milan in 1935, and today is one of the most important architects and industrial designers in the world. He is best known in Japan through his best-selling furniture. He has visited Japan more than 30 times in the last 20 years and has designed this Center with a deep understanding of Japan's cultural and marketing background.

Projects Built
Museum of Islamic Arts at Louvre Museum, Paris, 2005-2012
Museum of the City of Bologna, Italy, 2004-2012
Urban redevelopment "Verona Forum", Verona, Italy, 2004?2011
Radical refurbishment of the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, 2007?2011
National Gallery of Victoria extension and redevelopment, Melbourne, Australia, 1996?2003
Essen International Fair Extension, Germany, 1998?2001
Natuzzi Americas Headquarters, High Point, North Carolina, USA, 1996?1998
Arsoa Co./Cosmetics- Headquarters, Yamanashi, Japan, 1996?1998
New fair district of the Milan Trade Fair, 1987?1997
Risonare Vivre Club Complex, Kobuchizawa, Japan, 1989?1992
Tokyo Design Center, Tokyo, Japan, 1988?1992
Yokohama Business Park, Yokohama, Japan, 1987?1991
Villa Erba Exhibition and Congress Centre, Cernobbio (Como), 1986?1990
Thermoelectric power plant of Cassano d'Adda-Office building, 1985?1990

Villa Erba

Olivetti typewriter

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