Nissan Crossing reimagined as an experiential gallery in Ginza


Nissan Crossing seen from the landmark Ginza Crossing. Photo: Nacasa & Partners

The Nissan Crossing automotive gallery in Tokyo, Japan has welcomed over a million local and international visitors in its first four months since opening.

The design of Nissan Crossing has been recognized internationally by a Jury Award in the Architecture and Technology Category by the 2017 Architizer A+ Awards. The competition received entries from over a 100 countries and represented the best of architecture and design worldwide. Nissan Crossing has also garnered two IDA Design Silver Awards for Interior Design.

Previously known as the Nissan Gallery, the automotive innovation gallery has been in the heart of the landmark Ginza shopping district for over half a century. The gallery has had three previous iterations, two of which involved the complete demolition and reconstruction of the Sapporo building. The most recent reconstruction as Ginza Place was a significant and highly anticipated milestone because of the gallery’s legacy and prominence in Tokyo.

The design delivers an immersive experience, focused on innovation that excites. The two level space brings the thrill of driving back to the streets of Tokyo with a floor to ceiling ‘Virtual Facade’ directly on the Ginza Crossing. Synchronized LED (light emitting diode) mesh screens behind the ground floor turntable and embedded along the entire length of the facade give passers-by an immersive experience from the driver’s seat. Once inside, visitors are inducted into a digital and sensory experience within the showcase of leading-edge automotive technologies.

Each exhibit is seamless with the physical design of the interiors to enhance the visitor experience. The space embodies the aerodynamic qualities of automobiles with sweeping lines and dynamic, continuous forms. Automotive technologies and CNC (computer numerical control) fabrication techniques were employed to develop the complex Spiral forms. The Illuminated ribbon-like elements spatially define the exhibition areas overhead and merge with the walls and floors to create a cohesive environment. A non-linear exhibition design encourages visitors to take a self-directed tour based on their own interests, enriched by an app available on iPads throughout the gallery.

The first floor includes a turntable inside the glass-enclosed Cylinder, the Center Stage area for two vehicles, a curving Concierge desk and a high definition theater. An integrated and concealed hydraulic lift above the main stage allows for vehicles to be moved between floors and exhibited on the stages without compromising on space. Visitors use the adjacent escalators and elevators to circulate between floors. Architecturally, the common and exhibition spaces are continuous and materially seamless to increase the sense of expansiveness of the overall experience.

The exhibits continue on the second floor with an Interactive Wall that allows visitors to explore Nissan’s design legacy, a Spiral Stage for featured technologies and the Cylinder Top turntable. A bespoke Nissan Boutique and Crossing Cafe make up the other half of the second floor. Product offerings are curated and collaboratively designed with local Japanese artists and industrial designers.

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“Nissan Crossing enhances the customers’ experience with state-of-the-art technologies and world-leading interactive features.
Carlos Ghosn, Chairman & CEO Renault-Nissan Alliance

“The theme of the spatial design realized in Nissan Crossing plays an important role in the strong identity of the Nissan brand for subsequent designs of stores and booths of car shows, which will now be globally promoted. Without the elevated creative vision of Eight Inc., this project would not be successful.”
Tsutomu Matsuo, Associate Chief Designer, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

About Shabbar + Eight Inc.:

Shabbar Sagarwala is a Canadian urbanist, architect and Principal at Eight Inc., the San Francisco-founded experience design firm responsible for Apple, Nike, Nokia and Citibank environments globally.

Prior to relocating to Dubai to head up the newest Eight Inc. office, Shabbar was Director at Eight Inc’s Singapore studio where he brought several branded environments to completion, including the award-winning Nissan Crossing, United Overseas Bank (UOB) Shanghai Flagship, Singtel FutureNow innovation Center in Singapore, Globe Iconic lifestyle center in the Bonifacio Global City, Manila and Globe Telecom Gen3 Retail Ecosystem and Philippine nation-wide roll-out. Urban-scaled proposals have included the Changi Precinct Innovation Hub in Singapore and Chapel Plaza mixed-use development in Melbourne. Pro bono projects for educational and non-profit institutions have included the INSEAD Creative Garage and Singapore Repertory Theatre renewal.


“Nissan Crossing, “Architizer: A+ Awards 2017, Phaidon

“Nissan Crossing,” Shotenkenchiku (Jan 2017, Vol. 62 No. 1): 96-99, 104
ニッサンクロッシグ:特別車と最先端技術で体感する自動車の未来, 商店建築2017 Vol62: ページ96-99, 104


Nissan Crossing website

“Nissan. Innovation that Excites,” Eight Inc.

Nissan Crossing Experience Centre, Architizer

“NISSAN CROSSING to the future in Ginza”

“Nissan Crossing welcomes one million visitors in four months,” Press Release, Nissan Global Newsroom (1 Feb 2017)

Schmitt, Bertel, “A famous Tokyo landmark returns as Nissan reclaims the heart of Ginza,” Forbes Magazine (23 Sep 2016)


「山手線で新宿駅に到着する」Arriving at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station on the Yamanote Line

I’ve been revisiting videos that I took of Tokyo before I departed in the fall of 2013. This was one of the most exhilarating moments on the Yamanote Line as the Shinjuku-bound train hurtles along the elevated rail line from Shin Okubo Station, past the vertical neon billboards of the red-light district in Kabukicho and the cacophony of Shinjuku Station’s East Exit. Before arriving at Shinjuku, one has this sense of being compressed in the density of Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown, as buildings whip by just a few meters from the tracks, and then suddenly Yasukuni Dori (formerly known as Taisho Dori) comes into view. The six-lane boulevard is a stark contrast to the tightly built-up neighbourhoods of central Tokyo, a kind of Haussmanian intervention which was carved out of the city to create a fire break and evacuation route after the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake destroyed much of the city.

When I first took the JR Yamanote Line into Shinjuku Station, I felt instantly transported to scenes out of Bladerunner with the massive video-screen billboards glowing in the rainy evening. While Bladerunner portrayed the future city in a dystopian light, Tokyo for me was its antithesis as a vibrant and bustling urban spectacle. Right after Meiji Dori, a piazza-like square opens up outside Shinjuku Station’s East Exit, framed by a wall of buildings topped with cubic billboards and filled with throngs of people. The intensity of Shinjuku is perhaps only comparable to Shibuya a few stops to the south, but by numbers Shinjuku is the busiest station on earth (early 4 million people pass through its bowels everyday, transferring from commuter lines to the inner-city subway lines on 36 separate platforms or being channeled out from one of its 200 or so exits).

This video by Adam Magyar focuses more on the crowds waiting on the platform at Shinjuku Station, which at high speed captures the movement of individuals in incredible detail. Idiosyncrasies, stolen glances, and expressions of boredom make up the vital backdrop of this cross-section of Shinjuku.

「多摩美術大学 八王子図書館」 Tama Art University Library

The Main Entrance to the library with the curving facade

The Main Entrance to the library with the curving facade

A long-awaited visit to Toyo Ito’s Tama Art University Library in Tokyo’s far west-end at Hachioji. The concrete arches are reminiscent of Middle Eastern architecture, but lighter and almost paper-like when viewed from the exterior. Inside, the columns are irregularly placed over the sloping ground floor, cavern-like in places and cathedral-like on the magnificent second floor. The facade has concave curves on two sides, creating ample public spaces and signifying the entrances in the undulating gardens that surround the building. The custom furniture also undulates, reflecting the landscape of hills and valleys outside.

Curving facade overlooking the garden

Curving facade overlooking the garden

The reading room with a piece of furniture that mimics the landscape outside

The reading room with a piece of furniture that mimics the landscape outside

The cafe on the ground floor of the library

The cafe on the ground floor of the library


Architectural Iconoclast Wins the Pritzker Prize

Tama Art University Libraries

in search of urban intensities


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Tokyo Dérive: In Search of Urban Intensities 「東京漂流ー都市の強度を探して」 My research on Yanagihara published in the Mn’M Workbook 2, following the Situationist-style dérive fieldwork at the ‘Measuring the Non-Measurable’ Symposium, held in November 2012 at the International Keio Institute for Architecture … Continue reading

tokyo’s hinterland


Panoramic view of the mixed deciduous forests from the summit of Tennosan Mountain, Okutama

The metropolis of Tokyo is better known for its dense urban center surrounded by the Yamanote line, but so-called Tokyo-to includes 23 wards that stretch to the western edge of the Kanto Plain. Bordering Kangawa and Saitama Prefectures, the mountainous extremity of Tokyo is the source of the Tamagawa River and has several natural and rare habitats of alpine fauna and flora. At around the 1700m altitude in Okutama, near the summit of Tennosan Mountain, the cedar forests that blanket the hills below recede, giving way to a mixed deciduous forest. Autumn arrives in Okutama’s hills earlier than Tokyo, with temperatures plummeting from the mid-20s in the daytime to just above freezing in the evening. With the dramatic temperature swings in October, the deciduous forest is alight with the crimson reds of Sumac in the understory, the auburn palmate leaves of Sycamore, and the delicate ochre of Japanese Maples in the upperstory, and the bright yellow and orange Larches in the upper alpine reaches of the mountains. The cedars at lower elevations retain their evergreen boughs, the coniferous forest itself mute with an army of perfectly vertical trunks and a forest floor where nothing grows under the darkness of the dense shade.

The remaining mixed deciduous forest near the summits of Okutama is what Tokyo probably used to look like before its first growth forests were cut down to build Edo when the capital was relocated by the Shogun Tokugawa. Forests that could be felled easily in the lower slopes were carted off to the east to be turned into shrines, temples, Edo castle itself and to satisfy the housing for the masses that settled in the Kanto Plain. Cedars were planted in the aftermath of the indiscriminate logging, creating a massive monoculture that exists to the present-day. Cedars being revered for their capacity to resist water damage and insect (especially termite) infestation, were the logical choice for re-planting. Deciduous hardwoods, although prized for their strength and beauty, needed much more tending and maintenance as they were susceptible to various types of damage, reducing the yield as compared to the favored evergreens.

The consequences of this monoculture on such a large scale have affected not only the natural ecology of the mountains in western Tokyo, but also the habitat of fauna and on the air quality all the way in the metropolis. Fauna like the Japanese Macacque (Macaca fusata) have retreated to higher elevations where the supply of food is plentiful and the environment conducive to their natural habitat. The mixed deciduous forest includes fruit and nut-bearing varieties like the Japanese Chestnut (Castanea crenata) which litter the forest floor with edible nuts that the monkeys gather. At lower elevations, with only Cedar pinecones and pine needles on the forest floor, the food-barren environment stands in shadowy silence.


A Japanese Macacque with its baby on a branch in a Chestnut grove

When Spring arrives, Cedars release massive amounts of pollen which is sent eastwards when air borne, mixing with pollution in the city and becoming a noxious mixture that is attributed to the high incidence of hay fever. With few permeable surfaces in the city, the allergy-causing concoction swirls around, reducing the air-quality significantly enough that many urbanites don masks and take prescription medication over weeks of eye-watering suffering.

On the descent from Toridaniyama Mountain, one of the tallest peaks in the area, its possible to see all the way to Tokyo’s skyscrapers. A three hour train ride from Tokyo Station, a 20 minute bus ride to the foot of the mountain and a two day hike to an elevation of nearly 2000 meters and Tokyo is still clearly visible on a crisp fall day. Roppongi Hills, the Tokyo Tower, and the Shinjuku Towers can easily be perceived on the horizon within the vastness of the Kanto Plain.  Despite the great distances, Tokyo’s influence has collapsed space and what would seem to be a modern ecological problem actually started as the first trees were being felled 400 years or more ago. Ecological systems in the globalized world don’t obey man-made borders and certainly today, the demands of a city like Tokyo can mean overfishing in places as far-flung as Canada or clear-cutting in the depts of Amazonian Brazil. Okutama is a microcosm of this phenomenon, demonstrating that the frame of the city as ecosystem needs to be expanded to be comprehended in its entirety.


The view to the Kanto Plain and Tokyo’s skyscrapers from Okutama

tokyo skytree 東京スカイツリー


This gallery contains 3 photos.

Tokyo Tower

The view from the tallest free-standing structure in the world, Tokyo Skytree: The Marunouchi CBD framing the Tokyo Tower

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