Photograph � Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporaiton
Asahi Super Dry Hall
|Official name:||Super Dry Hall||Also known as:||Azumabashi Hall||Also known as:||Asahi Beer Hall|
Tokyo is a fascinating city for architecture lovers. Its ancient temples and shrines are complemented by modern works that defy Western imagination and make the word "daring" seem too tame. Azumabashi Hall is one of those pieces of Japanese architecture that the people of Tokyo readily embrace while outsiders trying to wrap their brains around it cock their heads and squinch up their faces as if they're trying to solve a mind puzzle. To be sure, this is daring architecture. But it also helps illustrate the Japanese mindset, which is able to mix cunning intellect with whimsey on a grand scale. The Asahi Super Dry Hall replaces a beloved forum on the same spot with the same name. The old building was a landmark with a huge illuminated Asahi Beer sign that was ingrained in the neighborhood's collective unconscious. The new building had to be special, and the the people of Asahi Breweries decided to create a structure that symbolizes what they make -- beer. The Asahi Breweries Head Office next door is a tall golden tower topped by a space frame of white triangles. The resemblance to a tall foamy mug of beer is intentional. The same can be said for the new hall next door. When its design was first revealed, it was described as a representation of a specific beer: Asahi Super Dry. At the time, Asahi Super Dry was one of the most popular beers in Japan, and is still a staple in vending machines everywhere. It's not hard to picture the Flame d'Or (golden flame) at the top as the foam being blown off a frosty one. Further, the building's black granite facade is punctuated by a grid of portholes that at night give the illusion of tiny bubbles of effervescent beer in a large mug. Later, the official position changed slightly so that the building, and its flame now represent the work ethic and spirit ("yakushin") of the Asahi employees who created Asahi Super Dry. This could be a refining of the translation into English, or a new position entirely. It doesn't matter -- it's their building. Walking around Asakusa, it is common to hear tourists and even local gaijin explaining that the gold sculpture is an olympic flame symbol. This is false. There is little sense in a company spending millions of dollars on an Olympic flame when the last time Japan hosted the olympics was almost 20 years before the building was erected. Further, the statements directly from the company directors say it's the spirit of their workers. And it's their building, so what they say goes. The olympic tale is likely the mental construction of Westerners who can't reconcile the expense of erecting a building with the Japanese enthusiasm for the literal and the unusual. It is in this spirit that the work of art has the very popular nickname: The Golden Poo ("O Gon No Unko.")
> The flame is 14 meters tall.
> The flame is 12 meters wide.
> The flame weighs 360 tons.
> The flame was constructed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
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