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W Osaka: Tadao Ando’s hometown hotel is a monolith of hidden delights

Ando’s sleek, stark, black box rises above Osaka’s skyline and hides a treasure trove of interiors designed by Concrete.

W Osaka: Tadao Ando’s hometown hotel is a monolith of hidden delights

W, the iconic hotel brand, arrived in Japan in not long ago with the opening of W Osaka. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winner Tadao Ando, the hotel has more recently launched W PRESENTS, a series of live electronic music events across Asia-Pacific. November 2023 saw major global artists headline the opening event in Osaka: Japanese actors, models, and DJs SHUZO & YAMATO, followed by Italian music producers Giolì & Assia.

W PRESENTS testifies at once to several design accomplishments. First, that it’s more than a hotel. In-keeping with the bold, high-energy image of W, the building provides for so much more – from extensive pool, spa and wellness facilities to hospitality venues and, crucially, a dynamic lobby space that can host a full live music event.

Second, it achieves the atmosphere necessary for not just hosting such an event as W PRESENTS but also to make it successful. The interiors have been designed by Amsterdam-based Concrete, a multidisciplinary studio working across architecture, interiors and urban design – and they are certainly full of life and energy. Colour is everywhere, with the dynamic and highly varied lighting options key to the sense of playfulness.

“Osaka’s mix of culture and bold, high-energy lifestyle makes it the ideal setting for the debut of W Hotels in Japan,” says Rajeev Menon, president (Asia-Pacific excluding China) of Marriott International. “We are excited to once again be partnering with Sekisui House to welcome W Osaka to the luxury hospitality landscape here, and know international travelers and locals alike will be drawn to the hotel and its playground of possibilities.”

The interiors form an unapologetically stark contrast with the equally striking exterior. Ando’s minimalism comes to the fore on the outside – the master architect once again showing how apparently simple, pared-back moves can have such strong spatial, visual and experiential effects.

The black box is so monolithic that it seems to paradoxically achieve two opposite effects at one and the same time: it both disappears and stands out. It is at once the most visible and invisible building in the centre of Osaka; present yet absent. If every other building here was a black box then it wouldn’t work – but that, of course, is the point.

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Located on one of Osaka’s major thoroughfares, Midosuji, the hotel’s street access point is muted. The material of the street has been subtly but cleverly curved up to meet the black monolith, while a dynamic entry tunnel, susceptible to changes of colour, creates a feeling that this place is something special. The initial lobby area, however, becomes a space to pass through on the way up to the main reception, bar and lobby area.

Here, where W PRESENTS took over for its DJ sets, the W atmosphere comes to life. Colourful furniture breaks the space up while inviting visitors to cast restless eyes across the space. The spa and pool facilities, beautiful finished, are found on the lower levels, as are multiple hospitality areas.

Teppanyaki MYDO is located on street level, an intimate setting that also caters to glimpses of the busy street life as visitors enjoy the exquisite dining experience. Themed around Osaka soul food, MYDO has been created by local interior designer Yasumichi Morita and artist Seitaro Kuroda.

Back inside the hotel proper, hidden Sushi OKIYO can be found at the end of a long curtained corridor – we won’t reveal exactly where – but guests needn’t look far to find excellent dining choices with OH.LALA. Boasting views over tree-lined Midosuji, it’s a renewed brasserie with modern French dining on offer.

Inside the actual hotel rooms, it’s hard to go past the views. It’s one of the successes of the minimal exterior facade, which has allowed the rooms to have full floor-to-ceiling windows. Standing at the window, there is absolutely nothing else between you and the view – the window is the wall.

Detailing and material finishes are impeccable throughout, with variations in floor textures a particular standout. Doors slide with effortless weight and lights change to an ever-so-slightly naughty pink. With a design that is local in important ways yet decidedly global in its cosmopolitan cool, it’s all part of an experience that is luxurious, elegant and very definitely fun.

Tadao Ando Architect & Associates


W Osaka

Courtesy of W Osaka

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