2009 – Za-Koenji Public Theatre – Toyo Ito

Za-Koenji Public Theatre is a theatre for contemporary performing arts. The theatre produces, presents and supports a wide range of cultural activities for the community of Suginami, enabling people of all ages to see and take part in many art forms from drama and dance to music and storytelling. The theatre is located within a residential district, the new building has replaced the old Koenji Hall.

Because of the surrounding context and the acoustic requirements within the building, Toyo Ito designed a “closed” space, with both its walls and roof being constructed of steel plate reinforced concrete, providing sufficient stability, yet remaining extremely thin. The roof form was carved out of a cube by 5 elliptic cones and 2 cylinders, resulting in a dynamic shape that expresses movement and lightness. The central axes, angles and coordinate positions of the elliptic cones and cylinders, were defined according to the height restrictions of the site and the height requirements of the internal programs.

With the halls stacked on top of each other a floating structural system was adopted with every floor slab, and walls and ceilings insulated from the main structural frame. Because of the strict height restrictions only the small main theater Za-Koenji 1, the cafeteria, and the offices are located above ground level. The rest of the programs are placed at basement levels.

Za-Koenji 1, the Main Auditorium, is a flexible space, that allows for a range of different stage and seating configurations. The lobby is entered directly from the square in front of the building. Za-Koenji 2, Civic Hall, is located on basement level 2. It is a conventional theater space with fixed raked seating, suitable for drama performances, dance, concerts, conferences or lectures.

The Awa Odori Hall, also on basement level 2, was designed for practices of one of the Japanese Bon Festival Dances performed during the Awa Odori Festival. This hall made use of its maximum volume in order to also meet the requirements for musical concerts and performances.

Name: Za-Koenji Public Theatre│Type: Entertainment│Architect: Toyo Ito│Completed: 2009


2007 – Tama Art University Library – Toyo Ito

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


2005 – Mikimoto Ginza – Toyo Ito / Taisei Design

The building of apparent simplicity comprises a prism perforated by a series of irregular windows, like a Swiss cheese, apparently arranged at random. However, since some of these are placed in the corners (where typically would be a column) and as we look closely at the fine finish of the facade, is evident that a much a more sophisticated construction system was used. The concept is based on the building is held by its facade, leaving the internal spaces column-free.

Name: Mikimoto Ginza│Type: Commercial│Architect: Toyo Ito / Taisei Design│Completed: 2005


2004 – Tod’s Omotesando – Toyo Ito

The building is surrounded by a skin of interlocking concrete supports and glass, mimicking the trees lining the street. The organic effect outside of the building is particularly impressive in the cooler months, when the bare branches of the elms near reflected in the building. The facade design mimics the natural growth patterns of the trees nearby, and as luck would have on the sidewalk near the door has several trees whose branches run counter to most of the super-structure of the building, creating a mirror image of the nature of the architecture created by man.

Light enters the building through the transparent glass that fills the spaces between the concrete supports on the front facade on the north side. The glass is opaque to the south, facing rows of low private homes that provide extra daylight in the building. The building has 270 openings, 200 of which are only 70 combined with glass and aluminum. The concrete supports also serve as space dividers inside the building in which natural materials, stone, wood and leather, reflect the quality of the products displayed.

The depth of the concrete structure offers a neutral green tone, the color effect is the result of reflection of colored glass. Moreover, since the glass has no frame, creates a sense of bewilderment, as a whole, the visual appearance resembles a pattern drawn on a plane. The rear entrance to the building is shaped like a “house of tales”, contrasting with a door located on the right side, rectangular frameless steel sheet and firmly fixed in the same plane as the concrete wall.

Name: Tod’s Omotesando│Type: Commercial│Architect: Toyo Ito│Completed: 2004