The National Art Center, Roppongi

Mike GristArchitecture 2 Comments

The National Art Center in Roppongi is a funky-chic blend of high-tech glass panelling with a utilitarian ethos that denies the standard limitations of space. The exterior ripples like a breaking wave, its sliced-and-diced stylings constantly catching refractions from the sun, remaking its contours in blotches of dizzying light.  Inside there are islands of cone-shaped concrete capped with coffee shops attainable only by bridges from upper floors, coming together within the wave-like facade in a cavernous lobby to create the idea of a wide open space comprised of a series of intimate and distinct areas.

UFO rising.

I went along to the Art Center with Su Young to check out the building, as well as a National Arts and Media Festival going on inside.



Shooting up.



The wave crashes overhead.

Modern stylings.


UFO landing.

The Media Arts show on the inside was generally unimpressive. It was of course free, so I`m not complaining, but seemed to be comprised chiefly of tech-gimmicks; like a light-box you can line up to control, a video fishing  pond you cast your line into by dialling a number on your cell phone, rooms where you danced in front of a screen and had yourself re-projected onto it with bits of junk clinging to your frame.

Fun novelty bits, but not really art and not really coming together to mean anything, or say anything. Components of future art perhaps.

Behind the panels.


Up an island.

Out the entrance.


Location – Roppongi

Entry – Free entry to some exhibitions.

Facts – Opened in 2007.

Architect – Kisho Kurokawa

Highlights – Wavy glass.


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Comments 2

  1. Roppongi’s changed a lot since I wasted a few nights there in the mid 90s. Post Bubble it was a place to ignore blond anorexic hostesses for giggling dark-haired girls and hope to avoid a knife fight with an American seaman.

  2. Post

    James- Well, that side of Roppongi is still very much there, you have to pass through it to get to Roppongi Hills. Though perhaps not so many knife-wielding seamen these days.

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