In 2007 Toyo Ito designed the library for Tama art university located in the suburbs of Tokyo. Passing through the main entrance gate, the site lies behind a front garden with small and large trees, and stretches up a gentle slope. The existing cafeteria was the only place in the university shared by both students and staff members across all disciplines, so the first impetus for the architects design was to question how an institution as specialised as a library could provide an open commonality for all.
To let the flows and views freely penetrate the building, Toyo Ito developed a structure of randomly placed arches which would create the sensation as if the sloping floor and the front garden’s scenery were continuing within the building. The characteristic arches are made out of steel plates covered with concrete. In plan these arches are arranged along curved lines which cross at several points. With these intersections, we were able to keep the arches extremely slender at the bottom and still support the heavy live loads of the floor above. The spans of the arches vary from 1.8 to 16 metres, but the width is kept uniformly at only 200 mm.
The intersections of the rows of arches help to articulate softly separated zones within this one space. Shelves and study desks of various shapes, glass partitions that function as bulletin boards, give these zones a sense of both individual character and visual as well as spatial continuity. The spatial diversity one experiences when walking through the arches different in span and height changes seamlessly from a cloister-like space filled with natural light, to the impression of a tunnel that cannot be penetrated visually.
Name: Tama Art University Library│Type: Education│Architect: Toyo Ito│Completed: 2007