Urban voids


The construction going on in Tokyo seems to be morphing into art these days. Like some Christo inspired wrapping project, Shibuya’s south side currently has more negative space than buildings as the neighborhoods lining the railway tracks are torn down to make way for some newer and no doubt taller towers. For now the area has the look of a partially rendered graphic environment.




Everywhere, cranes pierce the skyline, shroud-covered buildings appear or disappear as if in a time-lapse, new utilitarian concrete and glass cubes replace old timber and tile back-street dwellings, blank fenced-off voids disrupt the visual rhythm of city blocks. In Shibuya, entire neighborhoods have been razed and are being rebuilt. Wherever I look it seems the city is being pulled apart and put back together anew. Tokyo has never been a sentimental city — redevelopment is nothing new to a city defined by its dynamism — but this current chapter of construction leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics feels like the adrenalin-fueled, last gasp of a gambler throwing in all his chips on his lucky number.