Koichi Takada Architects - Sydney



GQ Australia

20 September 2019

Partnership with Glenfiddich




When architect Koichi Takada took to designing Sydney’s‘’ building for the Crown group, he wanted it to feel like part of a landscape, just like Sydney’s undulating topography. The shape was designed to respond to the sunlight, to create a relationship with the surrounding buildings, and to really open the vista for the people who live around it. Yet with a total of 20 stories, 325 apartments, 75 boutique hotel rooms, and 30+ retail and F&B outlets, the team had to overcome a series of design and construction challenges to deliver a standout piece of architecture. Challenges though, are something Takada accepts with open arms.

“When you design something and people say ‘wow can you actually do this?’ that’s super exciting. But as the projects get bigger you start dealing with a lot of external pushback, like governments and councils,” he explains to GQ. “You have to keep in mind that you’re not just designing for immediate business practice, but for the long term, and need to have a vision for the next generation. This is increasingly becoming an important subject, so another challenge is reminding ourselves that we can change the world by reducing our carbon footprint.”

Interestingly enough, Takada didn’t grow up with a passion for architecture, or buildings for that matter, it was a love for cosmopolitan cities such as New York and London that saw him book a flight straight to the concrete jungle. Here, he realised it wasn’t exactly easy to make a living as a creative in the big city, so started researching architecture – seeing it as a skill that sat between art and engineering, and as almost the best of both worlds.

“I went to New York but realised I actually hated this concrete jungle,” he explained. “When I went to Central Park, which was the closest you could get to a natural environment, I felt a connection and that’s when I fell in love with nature – and started questioning how nature could be part of architecture.” Takada realised that what he had to do was reverse the idea of a building, which meant pursuing architecture as a challenge and changing the conventional way of design buildings.

“To be a game changer in any field you really need to study, research and understand the rules. It took me ten years to understand how rules work and why they are in place. Once you understand the limits then the aim is to design something outside of that box,” he explains. “Today’s world is very competitive, and to be unique is to really understand the rules, then to bend them without breaking them. This is where you can bring your point of difference.”

His focus shifted to creating buildings that were more engaging, and looking for that tiny bit of opportunity where he could really push the boundary and make an impact – something his Japanese heritage lended to completely. “Japanese culture, especially the more traditional part of it, revolves around looking to nature. In Japan there’s a lot of architecture that has something to do with nature, or uses natural materials,” explains Takada.

“Take for example earthquakes – Japanese people realised it’s actually more practical to work with nature than against it, so they created buildings that don’t use any nails, and instead used natural alternatives. Their ability to withstand earthquakes shows how amazing the carpentry and design is – especially because they’ve been there for hundreds and hundreds of years.”

So what are some of the other brands Takada looks to for inspiration?

“Pushing boundaries in your field means seeking to look outside the rules, but it also means respecting the past. With whisky, the idea that every generation has to figure out a way to represent the spirit of their time, often which has been placed in barrels for aging by a past generation, is a commendable feat.”

Takada, who is currently working with Glenfiddich on their Meet the Mavericks campaign, was excited to collaborate with a heritage name that is constantly experimenting.

Glenfiddich as a brand also experiments and pushes boundaries. And I align myself with that. Yes, they focus on creating whisky, but they’re also asking ‘how can we bring that experimental spirit?’” he adds. “When you buy aged whisky you’re almost buying into the past, and it’s amazing to think when you give someone a bottle of their whisky that a sense of time comes with the bottle.

“I hope that in time my designs will do something similar and have that connection to the past and exude a sense of wonder – and that’s why this brand alignment is really fascinating to me.”

And neither can we.

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