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This Japanese Building Has a Highway Passing Right Through It

The Gate Tower Building is one of the many several tall office buildings that make up Osaka’s impressive skyline, but there is something about it that makes it unique in the world – it has a functional highway going right through it.

Photos of this architectural anomaly have been doing the rounds on social media for over two decades now, and it’s easy to see why. 16-storey buildings don’t usually have highway off-ramps going right through them, but the Gate Tower Building does, and the traffic doesn’t affect the people working inside it one bit. The elevators are located on the side of the building, and the highway itself doesn’t touch the tower, which is properly insulated against traffic noise and vibrations anyway. It’s still quite a sight to behold, and if you’re ever in Osaka you should definitely pass by, or rather, through.

Photo: Hiroshi Nakai/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Gate Tower Building was the result of a compromise in a 5-year-long land dispute. Property rights for this particular plot of land had been held by a wood and charcoal company since the Meiji period, but the buildings on it had deteriorated over time, due to gradual decline of the business. However, in 1983, when a redevelopment of the area was approved, the owners of the land were denied permits because the Japanese Government had already planned the Hanshin Expressway to pass through there. This was the beginning of a long and tedious legal battle.

 

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The owners of the land refused to move from their land, so after five long years, to avoid delaying the Hanshin Expressway project any longer, authorities proposed an interesting compromise. The company would maintain ownership of the land, but would agree to have the highway pass through their property. The highway off-ramp is essentially a tenant in the Gate Tower Building and is even listed as such on the list of tenants by floor. And as any good tenant, the highway, or rather its owner, pays rent.

 

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Floors 5 through 7 are inaccessible by elevator, as they are taken by the unusual tenant, but you can go up to the 8th floor and watch the traffic pass through from above. The Gate Tower Building is currently the headquarters of the TKP Corporation, so you’ll have to ask for permission to go inside their property.

 

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You would expect working so close to busy highway traffic to be a nightmare for the office workers in the Gate Tower Building, especially those located on the 4th and 8th floors, but that’s apparently not the case at all. Because the highway never touches the building, and because of the excellent insulation work, the unique building is surprisingly quiet.

 

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Driving through the Gate Tower Building is not very exciting, as you are basically passing through a short tunnel than doesn’t touch the building. It’s one of those sights that is way more cooler to admire from afar than actually see up-close.

 

Osaka’s Gate Tower Building reminds me of another architectural anomaly we featured a while back – a 19-floor residential building in Chongqing with a train track passing through it.