Trends in Japan > Lifestyle > "Spaceship" Lands In Shibuya
Youth Culture Hub Gets a Futuristic New Face

The area around Tokyo's Shibuya Station, long known as a center of youth culture and fashion, is getting a makeover. The symbol of this renewal is the creation of a new subway station in the form of a chichusen, or "underground spaceship." In comparison with traditional subway stations, which can be rather claustrophobic, this new station feels distinctly open, despite that the subway platforms are located five stories underground in a vast atrium.


The giant, spacious atrium

Platforms Five Stories Down
The area around the new Shibuya Station is being redeveloped as part of the Shibuya Culture Platform Initiatives, which aim to realize "a city that brings people together from around the world, a place where excitement is born and culture is created."

The distinctive subterranean spaceship serves as a station on the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line, which began operating in June and links three of Tokyo's major shopping districts: Ikebukuro, Shinjuku, and Shibuya. At present, the Fukutoshin Line runs from Wako City, Saitama Prefecture, south to the new Shibuya Station, although it will eventually extend all the way to Yokohama by joining with the Tokyu Toyoko Line. The "spaceship" is an elliptical structure about 80 meters long and 24 meters wide, and its unique design features a large open space in the center that allows people to peer down at the platform from the concourse floors above. The ticket gates for the new Shibuya Station are on the B2 level, while the platform itself is on the B5 level about 25 meters below ground. People looking up from the platform may very well feel as if they are inside a spaceship.


The route to the platforms


The station's colorful interior

Use of Natural Energy
The creator of this unprecedented structure is world-famous architect Ando Tadao, who employed various environmentally friendly innovations in its construction. One such example is the use of a ventilation system that harnesses the structure's innate air flow. The hot exhaust from trains rises and flows out of the atrium, while cool air from the outside is dragged in. The open space in the center of the "spaceship" helps make this possible. There is also a radiant cooling system that uses cooling tubes to circulate cold water beneath the platform floor and inside the ceiling. The use of these systems will reduce the station's annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,000 tons compared with an ordinary subway station.

The Shibuya area has long been a magnet for artists, designers, and other cultural figures and has been the birthplace of unique creations in such areas as music, movies, fashion, and art. The Shibuya Culture Platform Initiatives aim to take advantage of the opening of the new Shibuya Station to build on this tradition by transforming the entire area into a locus for the creation and dissemination of culture. The opening of the new Shibuya Station, where people and nature can coexist, is part of this plan, which also calls for the construction of multipurpose buildings in the area around Shibuya Station that will combine shops and office space with cultural facilities, such as theaters. Culture is firmly at the center of this ambitious transformation of Shibuya. (September, 2008)

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