Sou Fujimoto reveals design for the top of Japan’s record-setting Torch Tower

Sparking the Flame

Sou Fujimoto reveals design for the top of Japan’s record-setting Torch Tower

The gap near the top of Torch Tower will be home to a semi-outdoor observation area designed by Sou Fujimoto Architects. (Courtesy Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei Inc. / Mitsubishi Estate)

Lauded Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto has announced that he and his eponymous firm will be designing the crown of Torch Tower, a cloud-brushing centerpiece of a nearly 8-acre redevelopment zone headed by Mitsubishi Estate in Chiyoda, Tokyo, dubbed the Tokyo Torch. When completed in 2027, the new supertall will stand as the tallest building in Japan at 1,280-feet. Currently, the 984-foot-tall Abeno Harukas tower in Osaka ranks as the country’s tallest skyscraper.

(The Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting and observation tower, is the lankiest structure overall in Japan at just over 2,000-feet-tall when measured to the top of its antenna spire.)

Mitsubishi Estate, the real estate development arm of the Tokyo-headquartered Mitsubishi Group, first announced plans for the then-unnamed Tokyo Torch district in 2016 before formally unveiling details further details of the 63-story anchor office tower this past September. However, it was only recently, on January 8, that Fujimoto announced his firm’s involvement in the design of the superlative skyscraper’s “top part” via his Instagram page.

a semi-outdoor observation area in a skyscraper
Torch Tower’s “hill in the sky.” (Courtesy Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei Inc./Mitsubishi Estate)

Torch Tower “creates the new typology of high-rise building to have a large semi-outdoor hill-like-plaza in the middle of the building around the height of 300m [984 feet], as ‘a Place for People’ instead of ‘an object,’” wrote Fujimoto.

This symbolic “flame” of Torch Tower will take the form of an undulating and, as mentioned by Fujimoto, semi-outdoor public observation area/sky garden of sorts cut into the shell of the building that will offer visitors sweeping city views and a variety of cultural and recreational programming. Topping this Fujimoto-designed section within the uppermost reaches of the tower will be a 100-room luxury boutique hotel, per CNN.

While a bulk of Torch Tower will be dedicated to commercial office space, the lower levels are set to feature shops, restaurants, a bathhouse, and a 2,000-seat, multi-purpose venue. Flanking Torch Tower will be a sprawling public plaza that will serve as the park-like heart of Tokyo Torch and link the skyscraper with a second, shorter high-rise: the 43-story Tokiwabashi Tower. Due to be completed later this year, the nearly 700-foot-tall Tokiwabashi Tower, which like Torch Tower, will also be dedicated almost entirely committed to office space but with retail and restaurants on its lower levels, will stand as Japan’s 24th-tallest building. (The tower gets its name from the ruins of an ancient gate at the site that once served as an outer entry portal to the old Endo Castle, completed in the mid-15th century.)

nighttime illustration of a tokyo office tower with a glowing crown
Tokyo Station with Torch Tower—its “flame” aglow—in the background. (Courtesy Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei Inc./Mitsubishi Estate)

The entire $4.8 billion mega-development scheme is strategically linked to two major transit hubs: Tokyo Station, the city’s primary intercity rail terminal, and Otemachi Station, the city’s largest and second-busiest subway station. As noted by CNN back in September, the seismically-sound development will also offer public shelter areas to be used in the event of a major earthquake or other natural disasters.