A new Kengo Kuma building is always an event in Tokyo. But the Yokohama architect's latest is an exciting departure from his usual low-slung understatement. The Asakusa Culture and Tourist Information Center, launched 1 April, follows an extraordinary stack-of-houses design, inspired by traditional machiya townhouse architecture. The seven teetering storeys appear oddly at home in this historic neighbourhood, near the Sensoji Temple. Their generous glass windows optimise natural light to the cedarwood and concrete interiors. A café at the top has a perforated-glass, metal and wood ceiling that evokes light filtering through a forest canopy. Tourists will have had an eyeful before even leaving the building.
By: Catherine Shaw