Examining the work of Tokyo architect Toyo Ito (b. 1941) – particularly his now seminal Sendai Mediatheque (1995-2001), Serpentine Gallery (London, 2002, with Cecil Balmond), TOD's Omotesando Building (Tokyo, 2004), Tama Art University Library (Tokyo, 2007), and National Taichung Theater (2009-16) – will immediately become apparent these buildings’ structural innovations and spatial, non-hierarchical organizations. Although these structures all seem to be quite diverse, there is one unifying theme – the architect’s consistent commitment to erasing fixed boundaries between inside and outside and relaxing spatial divisions between various programs within. There is continuity in how these buildings are explored. They are conceived as systems rather than objects and they never really end; one could imagine their formations and patterns to continue to evolve and expand pretty much endlessly.
Akihisa Hirata: The Latest Architecture and News
Renowned Japanese Architects and Artists Create A Series of Pavilions in Tokyo in Celebration of the Olympics
Accompanying the ongoing Olympics, Pavilion Tokyo 2021 invited Japanese architects and artists, including Kazuyo Sejima, Sou Fujimoto, Junya Ishigami and Yayoi Kusama, to envision nine temporary structures to be placed in various locations around the National Stadium designed by Kengo Kuma. The initiative showcases experimental interventions within the urban landscape that illustrate a playful take on public space. Also participating in the project are Terunobu Fujimori, Akihisa Hirata, Teppei Fujiwara, as well as artists Makoto Aida and Daito Manabe + Rhizomatiks.
Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) hosts a conversation among five of the most influential contemporary Japanese architects: Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, Sou Fujimoto, Akihisa Hirata and Junya Ishigami. Moderated by Columbia GSAPP professors Jeffrey Inaba and Kenneth Frampton, the conversation aims to explore the relationships and creative exchanges among this prominent group of architects and designers.
Ochoalcubo (Eight-Cubed) is a pioneering project in Chile that seeks to unite leading Chilean and Japanese practices with ground-breaking architecture. The collaborative enterprise was started by Eduardo Godoy, a design impresario who began working in Chile in the 1980s and who has always been a strong advocate for innovative design and architecture in the country. For a nation that boasts more than forty individual schools of architecture, the ever growing number of professionals seems to have had a relatively small impact on Chilean cities. Faced with the seemingly infinite landscape of 'cookie-cutter housing' in the suburbs, Godoy implemented Ochoalcubo in order to provide opportunities for young professionals, alongside fostering a new kind of appreciation for the profession itself. With a large number of architects having taken part in the first stage, including Smiljan Radic (designer of the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion), the third and fourth stage of what is certainly one of the world's largest active architectural laboratories will be launched in the coming days.
See images from all sixteen proposals from third and fourth stages of the Ochoalcubo project, including those by SANAA, Sou Fujimoto, Kengo Kuma, Alejandro Aravena and Atelier Bow Wow, after the break.
In Chile, a very special project is being developed.
Eduardo Godoy, a design impresario who started his business in Chile in the '80s, 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.
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...
Envision a future where undulating “solar plants” transform the rectangular masses of our cities into a vibrant metropolis where technology aids in the coexistence of humans and nature. Represented in the conceptual installation “Energetic Energies” at the Milan Design Week 2013, this notion of redefining our relationship with the sky through photovoltaics is based on years of technological research and development by the Panasonic Corporation, who commissioned Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata to imagine the possibilities.
The exhibition features a 30 meter-long makeshift city, whose “hills” of photovoltaics overtake clusters of white, translucent buildings while shadows of clouds move in and out of the space.
A video interview with Akihisa Hirata and more images after the break...
In the following videos you can see Toyo Ito, curator of “Architecture. Possible Here? Home-for-all”, along with collaborators Akihisa Hirata and Sou Fujimoto, discussing what Architecture means to them, the role of architects in our society, and how they approached the Biennale’s theme “Common Ground” on this particular exhibition, which reunites Japanese architects and an architectural photographer collaborating on the design of houses for those affected by the 2011 tsunami.
We thank the Japan Foundation for this interview.
Akihisa Hirata and Sou Fujimoto videos after the break: