Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito (June 1, 1941) turns 73 today. Renowned for flexible spaces that appeal to the human senses, Ito draws inspiration from the organic forms of nature, prioritizing fluidity between the natural world and the built form in his designs. Ito’s oeuvre defies definition; each of his many works, from the Odate Dome to White U to his masterwork Sendai Mediatheque, is extremely unique. We invite you to explore the The Life and Work of Toyo Ito.
This post was originally published in The Architectural Review as “Size Doesn’t Matter: Big Ideas for Small Buildings.“
Taschen’s latest volume draws together the architectural underdogs that, despite their minute, whimsical forms, are setting bold new trends for design.
When economies falter and construction halts, what happens to architecture? Rather than indulgent, personal projects, the need for small and perfectly formed spaces is becoming an economic necessity, pushing designers to go further with less. In their new volume Small: Architecture Now!, Taschen have drawn together the teahouses, cabins, saunas and dollhouses that set the trends for the small, sensitive and sustainable, with designers ranging from Pritzker Laureate Shigeru Ban to emerging young practices.
Though it seemed a compromise was met last October, when Japan’s minister of education, Hakubun Shimomura announced plans to reduce the cost and scale of the Zaha Hadid-designed Tokyo Olympic Stadium, the debate rages on.
Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have launched an online petition to “defend the ginko tree-lined landscape of blue sky and Jingu Outer Gardens” from the construction of Hadid’s “oversized” stadium.
The petition (now with more than 13,000 signatures) urges the Japan Sports Council, who hand selected Hadid’s winning design alongside Tadao Ando, to reconsider upgrading the existing Meiji Jingo Gaien Stadium and the gardens surrounding it. This solution, they believe, is a more affordable and sustainable alternative that would prevent the relocation of nearby residents.
Take a tour though Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic Stadium and share your thoughts about the design (and petition), after the break…
Toyo Ito has been selected to join a distinguished roster of laureates, including Mies van der Rohe, I.M. Pei, Jane Jacobs and Maya Lin, as the 2014 Thomas Jefferson Medalist in Architecture. Presented by the University of Virginia, in collaboration with the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the award recognizes significant “achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard.”
The list of architects that have collaborated with Zhang Xin’s development company, SOHO China, reads like the roster of an architectural dream team (which includes Zaha Hadid, Yung Ho Chang, Bjarke Ingels, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima, Herzog & de Meuron, Thom Mayne, David Adjaye, Toyo Ito and others). So it’s no surprise that the self-made billionaire lectured to a packed house at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design last Thursday. Xin spoke about her commitment to and love of design, explaining that her company’s mission is to bring a variety of architectural languages to China. And though SOHO’s projects are certainly experimental, Xin contends that her developer mindset actually helps meliorate the architect’s propensity to take the experiment too far—all without sacrificing the impressive and iconic forms of SOHO’s building portfolio.
The innovative work of the 2013 Pritzker Prize Laureate Toyo Ito is often driven by an internal critique and struggle towards perfection. In this translated program, the principal of Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects will discuss his design philosophy and remarkable work, which includes the Sendai Mediatheque in Miyagi, Japan, and Tokyo’s Tama Art University Library and TOD’S Omotesando Building.
This program is presented as part of Architecture Week. Additional support for this program is provided by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. For more information and tickets please click here.
Title: Spotlight on Design: Toyo Ito
Organizers: National Building Museum
From: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 18:30
Until: Wed, 16 Oct 2013 20:00
Venue: National Building Museum
Address: 401 F Street Northwest, Washington, D.C., DC 20001, USA
Last night we attended the Pritkzer Prize ceremony, where the 2013 laureate Toyo Ito accepted the prestigious award at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.
On his acceptance speech, Toyo Ito recognised the team that has worked with him during his 42 years of practice, including engineers and architects who attended the ceremony, including a very special former employee: Kazuyo Sejima, who worked with him for 7 years before establishing her practice, and also a Pritzker laureate (2010). As Ito said “Making architecture is not something one does alone; one must be blessed with many good collaborators to make it happen”.
And then, Ito continued his wonderful speech on how modern architecture and nature have been in a constant clash, how he has approached this relation and what he hopes for the future, appealing to JFK’s famous quote ”ask not what America will do for you” to propose the question “What can we ourselves do for the freedom of man?”.
The full speech is reproduced below, so you can understand how Ito’s passion for architecture and critic view of the state of world turns into a message of union for architects:
In Chile, a very special project is being developed.
Eduardo Godoy, a design impresario who started his business in Chile in the 80′s, has always been an advocate for design and architecture in the country. In Chile, more than 40 schools of architecture have flooded the market, but the ever growing number of professionals has had a relatively small impact on Chilean cities. Seeing the almost infinite landscape of cookie cutter housing in the suburbs, Godoy asked himself: why not break this model into smaller pieces, each designed by a particular architect, each an opportunity for a young professional? With this in mind, and to foster the appreciation for architects, Eduardo and his team at Interdesign started a project called “Ochoalcubo” (Eight-Cubed). His original idea was to make 8 projects, with 8 buildings designed each by 8 architects, to create developments where the singularity of each piece was key, in order to demonstrate how the individuality of the architect could result in good architecture.
At 71, the 2013 Pritzker Prize winner Toyo Ito is not content with settling down just yet, at least not architecturally-speaking. Where many architects have established distinct styles, Ito is known for constantly shifting, experimenting, questioning and developing his approach to architecture. As one member of the Prtizker jury put it “he has been working on one project all along – to push the boundaries of architecture. And to achieve that goal, he is not afraid of letting go what he has accomplished before.”
In this video entitled Learning from Laureates - which comes courtesy of the good folks at ARCHITECT magazine - fellow experimentalist and Pritzker Prize recipient (not to mention 2013 AIA Gold Medalist) Thom Mayne gets to grips with Ito’s motivation. The pair of laureates converse via Skype examining the drive behind Ito’s evolutionary approach, before getting down to discussing how they think architecture is being affected by society’s biggest change yet – the advent of the post-digital age.
See more of Ito’s work along with some of our previous coverage after the break…
Under the guidance of Toyo Ito, Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata envisioned an futuristic, experienced-based installation which sought to express “manifestations of flow as they relate to people and nature” to the spectators of the 2013 Milan Design Week. Titled “Amazing Flow”, the installation offered a “vision of the city of tomorrow” with a multi-sensory experience that embodied the “Lexus’ world vision” and a glimpse into how cars flow throughout built environment The display consisted of a continuous, wooden structure that represented a moment in which “roads, humans, wind and water flow as a single entity.”
Compare the installation to the Lexus “Create Amazing” promotional video for the 2014 LF-LC Concept car and watch an interview with Hirata after the break…
The city of Yatsushiro is known in Japan as a home for exemplary architecture – the legacy at least in part of Artpolis, a plan by the government of the Kumamoto Prefecture to seek out a range of talented architects to design cultural buildings in the cities of the region. Though the Artpolis scheme has been running for the past 22 years, perhaps its most successful building was completed back in 1991, with the construction of Toyo Ito‘s Yatsushiro Municipal Museum.
“Although Mr. Ito has built a great number of buildings in his career, in my view, he has been working on one project all along, — to push the boundaries of architecture. And to achieve that goal, he is not afraid of letting go what he has accomplished before.” — Yung Ho Chang, Member of the Pritzker Jury for 2013
Toyo Ito has been announced as the Pritzker laureate for 2013. Ito is the thirty-seventh recipient of the Pritzker Prize and its sixth Japanese recipient.
The Pritzker jury applauded Ito for his ability to synthesize many architectural languages and functionalities in the expression of one personal “syntax,” inspired by the organic structures found in nature and the sensual nature of the human user.
Calling him a “creator of timeless buildings,” the Pritzker Jury further praised Ito for “infusing his designs with a spiritual dimension and for the poetics that transcend all his works.” Among those works, the Jury singled out his Sendai Mediatheque, whose innovative use of structural tubes “permitted new interior spatial qualities,” TOD’S Omotesando building in Tokyo, “where the building skin also serves as structure,” and Tokyo’s Tama Art University Library as particularly inspiring.
In response to the accolade, the highest award in the profession of architecture, Ito humbly expressed that, with each project, he only becomes more “painfully aware of [his] inadequacy, and it turns into energy to challenge the next project.” For that reason, Ito professed, “I will never fix my architectural style and never be satisfied with my works.”
Read more of the Jury’s selection of Toyo Ito as the 2013 Pritzker Laureate, after the break…
One of Toyo Ito’s most iconic building is undoubtedly the Sendai Mediatheque. The latest Pritzker laureate completed the building in 2001, a cultural media center allowing complete visibility and transparency to the surrounding community.
French director Richard Copans made this documentary on the Sendai Mediatheque that you can’t miss. You can watch part II and III after the break. And don’t forget to check our complete coverage on the 2013 Pritzker Prize winner.