Gallery: PHOTOS: Japan’s ACROS Building is a Mountainous Green-Roofed P...

The glass-clad main atrium lets in tons of natural light.
The glass-clad main atrium lets in tons of natural light.

Things have changed since we last wrote about ACROS. When the building, which was designed by Emilio Ambasz & Associates, was first built, many of the trees that make up its “step garden” were still saplings. Now, many of the plants are so tall that they obscure the stair railings, which were clearly visible just a few years ago. In fact, you have to crane your neck to see over the trees as you ascend the leafy levels, and at times you feel as though you’re basically standing in the middle of a miniature forest.

We spotted buzzing bees, flora of all kinds and crystal clear waterfalls as we walked up ACROS’s stepped facade. When it was first built there were 76 varieties of plants, including 23 different kinds of trees ranging from plum to maple. According to the informational sign (translated by my mom), even more species came to thrive on the green roof as they were introduced by visiting birds, and now there are 120 varieties and 50,000 plants. We saw quite a few ginormous (by U.S. standards) black crows hanging out on tree branches and splashing about in the waterfalls and ponds.

Underneath its vertical forest, ACROS features nearly one million square feet filled with office space, an exhibition hall, a museum, a theater, conference facilities, a parking lot, and shops. The glass-clad main atrium lets in tons of natural light. Visitors who make it to the top of ACROS will notice that the grey spear that juts out of its facade is actually a stadium-style seating area that provides a lovely view of the greenery that makes this building the only one of its kind in the world.

+ Emilio Ambasz & Associates


Photos by Yuka Yoneda for Inhabitat


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  1. lazyreader June 8, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I’m sure ACROS is nice. What do we do when it’s ubiquitous. People start getting lost in the city. Old cities like Boston or New York, one could navigate using only landmarks, easier to do when buildings are differentiated by color and shapes and materials, be it wood, brick, stone, glass, and metals. Amazing what you can observe using bricks and stones.

  2. lazyreader June 8, 2011 at 8:18 am

    An automobiles skin serves multiple purposes. To provide and aerodynamic sheath, to look good, to protect the interior machinery.

    As for the building, ironically it appears like something out of Indiana Jones, the last remnants left behind by a ancient civilization. Try to interpret it by focusing on the outside, but like a dead language it’s unreadible. It showcases it’s new “Terminator” style featuring the revealed metal endoskeleton infrastructure covered with organic material. Passing this off as “gardens-in-the-sky” to greenwash. As if anybody on the street would benefit from the supposed garden effect. After the Meiji restoration Japan began a rapid process of Westernization which led to the need for new building types such as schools, banks and hotels. The Japanese government also invited foreign architects to both work in Japan and teach new Japanese architects. One of their own architectural attempts was called Giyōfū which led to gems like these.

  3. resolute June 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

    lazyreader, reply to your opinion

    First of all why do you separate green features and the building, it’s architects job to solve all the problems he faces in the given surroundings and combine all of it into a clear, relevant and working solution.
    You say that if one takes all the plants off the building it will look not so visually attractive, maybe so, but plants were part of architect’s response, it’s the same as saying, what if i took car hood off it would not be ‘aesthetically pleasing’.
    If do take the hood off what you’ll see will be not aesthetics but functionality, same for the buildings…

  4. lazyreader June 7, 2011 at 8:22 am

    I’m interested to see what the building would look like without the plants. Probably not very pleasing to the eye. Which shows how the architects focus more on green features than they do about aesthetic. And when all the buildings look alike appearing like Chia pets why bother hiring a architecture firm. Who needs ’em.

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