Goodbye Sony Park, Hello Sony Building

7-year renewal project
, a New Form of Preservation

On September 30, 2021, Ginza Sony Park will be closed.  Ginza  Sony Park is a Sony’s concept park located at the Sukiyabashi crossroads, the entrance to the famous shopping district. 

It’s a temporary closure for the construction of the new Sony Building to be completed in 2024. This is by no means a simple story of a whole new building being built. It’s an epic experimental project that succeeds the history of the legendary building in Ginza.

So what is so amazing about Ginza Sony Park? Here’s what you need to know.

Table of Contents

1-minute explanation about “Sony Building” 

Built in 1966, the building had the Sony product showroom, restaurants, and other tenants’ offices.

The showroom section had a unique structure that allows visitors to walk seamlessly from the upper floor to the ground floor while looking at their products. Four small floors on each level were layered on to the other, and spiral down to the lower level. 

(It was called the Hanabira, flower petal, structure because each floor looks like a petal of the flower when looking from above.)

Since its opening, the corner of its ground level was open to the public and was known as the “Garden of Ginza”. This space was being utilized for people to enjoy greenery or a small aquarium with tropical fish.  Sometimes it was turned into a live music venue.

The location of the building, on the corner of the Sukiyabashi crossroads, means a lot to Sony. They have been trying to contribute to make Ginza attractive and to offer a relaxing place for people visiting Ginza, rather than just promoting their own products on the site.  Providing such space for people in the middle of the city has always been an important concept for Sony, and a three-year experimental margin was necessary to inherit and enhance this concept.

For more information on Sony Building history, visit Sony Park Website

Don't do things that everyone does

The renewal project of the Sony Building was announced in 2016, the 50th anniversary year of the Sony Building. Sony mentioned they would spend 7 years on this. There would be no building built on the site until 2024, and they would create a public park for 2 years from 2018 (initially, the park was scheduled to close in 2020). The idea of creating a park in a prime location in Ginza blew people’s minds.

When the Sony Building was closed in 2017, Tokyo was scheduled to host the Olympic Games in 2020.

The whole city was busy with redevelopment plans. 

In the previous year, a huge shopping complex Tokyu Plaza Ginza was opened on the other side of the crossroads.  And at the Ginza 4-chome intersection, the Ginza Place building with the Nissan Motor showroom on the first floor opened.

It was a time that the cityscape of Ginza was changing considerably.  Everyone must have been surprised at Sony’s decision not participating in this redevelopment movement.

Of course, they didn’t mean that they would do nothing and leave the space empty for three years.

It was the experimental period for the new Sony Building.  A three-dimensional park was created on a subterranean level, and the land has been a public space until now. It was a new park space that no one could have imagined was born.

Use the margins luxuriously

There are many benches and much space in the park where people can use them freely. In front of the pop-up café and shops is empty space.  There is no instruction on what to do in the park.  It’s all up to visitors how they spend their time there. You will find Sony’s AI robot dog, AIBO sleeping beside a businessman busily talking on the phone. The staff leaves you alone unless you ask them something. It was simply a nice way to make visitors feel relaxed and comfortable.  

Although it is a space for anyone to use in any way, not everyone can make the best possible use of it.  Sony promotes occasional on-site events and pop-up stores, which offer something inspirational for people visiting the park. You can enjoy the latest music and art content almost for free whenever you come, and by the time you go through it, you will love Sony. It was also a place for Sony to experiment to find the possibility of the next Sony building.

Sony Building is a form of future architectural preservation

The idea of preservation like the Sony Building, which evolves and inherits the concept rather than preserving and prolonging the life of the building itself, may expand and widely accepted in the future. Buildings have a limited lifespan and changes are inevitable.

Sony’s flexible way of thinking changes in accordance with the times, and having people involved in the process of transforming seems to match with our generation.

Make sure to visit Ginza Sony Park before it moves on to the next phase. There are only a few more days left to see it.  

We hope the new Sony building will continue to make the city of Ginza even more attractive as a “garden of Ginza”.

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