Tokyo’s Towers of Wind(s)

Friday, 1st May 2009 by

Tokyo has two structures, apparently unrelated, with very similar names - the Tower of Wind and the Tower of Winds.

The Tower of Wind (singular, known locally as Kaze no Tō) is a spectacular structure in Tokyo Harbour consisting of a dazzling white circular base topped with blue and white striped 'sails'.

Tower of Wind

Google reveals a rather surprising number of blogs and other sites convinced that such a structure could only be the secret lair of Godzilla or an international super-villain. The reality is rather more mundane - the Tower of Wind is a ventilation shaft outlet for the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line - the world's longest undersea tunnel for cars. The 9.6km tunnel is coupled with a 4.4km bridge to link the two sides of the Bay, saving up to 100km of driving.

The Tower of Winds (plural) is a 21m tall building on the mainland designed by architect Toyo Ito.

Tower of Winds

Street View shows that it is rather unremarkable by day, while Live Maps shows that it is dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers.

Tower of Winds Tower of Winds

By night, however, it comes alive, with ever-changing displays of interior and exterior illumination. More than 1000 LEDs, a dozen neon rings and 30-plus floodlights respond to the noise of the city and the motion of the wind.  This movement of light is intended to represent "the visual complexity of Tokyo metaphorically in terms of a never-ceasing, ever-changing wind". Interesting details and good night-time pictures can be found at Ego magazine and Lighting Academy.