Assembling Sony's presence in Ginza

Christian Dimmer, Erez Golani Solomon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper offers a critical re-evaluation of what is arguably the clearest representation of a Japanese consumer electronic and media corporation in architectural form: the Ginza Sony Building. The paper argues that architect Yoshinobu Ashihara's 1966 modern masterpiece can be seen as a multilayered assemblage through which a number of distinct modernist traditions have evolved. This aspect of the building, we argue, is clearer in the present, ironically, after it has been demolished; in its absence. The building's status as a modernist icon and, consequently, fame, developed gradually since it was opened. But a series of recent events and the resulting dynamic encouraged us to revisit the building to construct a wider, more satisfying understanding of its value. The renewed relevance of the Sony Building, we know in hindsight, was determined when Tokyo was announced as a host of the 2020 Olympics. That announcement in September 2013 was a catalyst for a chain of events that revealed four distinct 'evolutions' in which the iconic building plays a distinct role. We discuss the change over time of: (1.) the emergence and presence of Sony in Ginza; (2.) the employment of modern architectural traditions and ideas; (3.) the linkage between Sony's flagship products and the building; and (4.) the representations of Sony as an architectural form and how it evolved from building to park and the expected building-park. The paper, then, offers a re-reading of the modernist building as a non-discrete urban assemblage at the intersection of new technologies in consumer electronics, novel architectural ideas, a Post-War nascent consumer society, and, an urban district that transformed because of the 1964 Olympic Games and is currently re-transforming through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The paper recognizes the Sony Building as a relevant object of study and repositions it in the current context. It accounts for the main evolutionary traditions and shows how the building encourages their composition.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 Proceedings - Inheritable Resilience
Subtitle of host publicationSharing Values of Global Modernities
EditorsAna Tostoes, Yoshiyuki Yamana
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9784904700785
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 2021 Aug 292021 Sept 2

Publication series

NameInheritable Resilience: Sharing Values of Global Modernities - 16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1 Proceedings


Conference16th International Docomomo Conference Tokyo Japan 2020+1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies


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