Client Story: MORI Building opens Tokyo to the world


30 years of planning, 300 landowners and 5 years of construction have led to the opening of Azabudai Hills in Tokyo’s Minato Ward. Our client MORI is a case study in consistency, imagination and real vision.

Strategic Direction: MORI’s vision is to regenerate Tokyo with the aim of giving the city an edge over, for instance, Paris, London and New York. For Azabudai it is a vision of intimacy and integration with nature that creates a “Modern Urban Village” attractive to the international business community as well as Japanese. Tyler Brule of Monocle, the architectural firms of Pelli Clarke & Partners, OMA and Heatherwick Studios were among the many who collaborated to launch this shared vision of a safe place that brings wellbeing into “Hills Life”. 

Cultural context: When we first considered the idea of a “City of Open Minds” there was no Japanese translation that reflected the nuance and depth of the concept. Here in 2023 we see MORI proposing this idea in the materials launching the project, creating a magnet for the best minds, a safe place for coexistence and a cultural shift for Tokyo.

I have just returned from the opening celebrations which were suitably spectacular, uniquely beautiful and incredibly welcoming. From ground breaking in 2019 and throughout the pandemic MORI built a city, as Minoro Mori would call it, a “Vertical Garden City”, complete with cultural vision and social values. Sustainability presented as beauty, hospitality, world class sophistication, Japanese quality and a future too exciting not to be part of, welcomes Tokyo into a world that brings people together. It is a positive vision of the future.

It took 35 years to get here and the journey to this future has now begun.