When Japan’s ‘bubble’ economy peaked during the latter half of the 1980’s, values were easily swayed by information that often had no actual basis.
Especially in major cities like Tokyo, countless commercial buildings were constructed and destroyed in rapid succession. People wandered the streets in a stupor of consumption, enjoying the fleeting atmosphere.
The Tower of Winds in Yokohama project, for example, was a commission to refurbish a ventilation tower over an underground shopping centre at Yokohama station. Merely a cylindrical structure sheathed in aluminium panels by day, at evening it loses its physicality and becomes a folly of myriad lights, perhaps modelled on the flamboyance and ephemerality of the city of the times.
In the centre of a roundabout near Yokohama train station, a 21 metre tall tower was constructed covered in synthetic mirrored plates and encased in an oval aluminium cylinder. Floodlights positioned within these two layers, when lit, give the tower the appearance of a giant kaleidoscope.
The reflective properties of aluminium panels emphasise the towers simple metallic form during the day. At night the ‘kaleidoscope’ is illuminated, presenting a brilliant display of reflection upon reflection.
The tower consists of 1,280 small lights and 12 bright white, vertically arranged neon light rings. Computer controlled floodlights make patterns of light within the tower, according to the time of the day.
Natural elements such as environmental noises and the speed and direction of wind, affect the intensity of the floodlights, resulting in a controlled ‘natural’ phenomenon.
The panels sometimes become a translucent film, at other times they appear to rise floodlit to the towers surface.