Architect Toyo Ito, winner of the Pritzker Prize (2013) and internationally recognized master, has been at the forefront of change for more than 40 years.
Born June 1, 1941 in Keijo. Graduated from the University of Tokyo. Ito founded his workshop with the telling name Urban Robot at the age of thirty, in 1971. From the very beginning, the Japanese worked, freeing himself as much as possible from the conventions of traditions and trends. He experimented with the most modern materials, creating rare masterpieces: either stretched shells, or transparent facades, or a crematorium, or a media library, presenting new scenarios and formats.
In April 2013, Toyo Ito showed off his spectacular work for the Lexus car brand, which became the highlight of Milan Design Week. This year’s masterpiece was the building of the International Museum of Baroque Art MIB in Mexico.
His themes were endless doubt about the reliability of the material world and images of water. “Sometimes it seems that we lose the understanding of our body. Children began to run much less on the streets. They spend hours in front of computers. When architects try to develop an adequate language for a new generation, they offer very minimalistic spaces. I’m looking for something more primitive, some kind of abstraction that conveys the sensations of the body.
His fame began with the “Tower of the Winds” in Yokohama (1986). A sensational project that has influenced the younger generation of architects is the media library in Sendai (2001). It has been called a monument of the electronic era more than once.
The multifunctional complex of the media library is, in fact, a whole city where, in addition to reading rooms, there are various cyberspaces, cinema halls, theaters and restaurants. The double glazing shell is adorned with colored pixels and becomes invisible at dusk.
Some floors are illuminated with cold light, others with warm. It is impossible to take your eyes off. Another masterpiece is the Meiso No Mori crematorium (“Forest for Meditation”, 2006): a curvilinear white roof, like a light blanket, lies on 12 thin columns, reflected in the smooth surface of the water. No one has ever achieved such silence and serenity in modern architecture. The statement is verified to the point, the rhythms are perfect.
The achievements of Toyo Ito & Associates in green building are unprecedented. In 2009, the bureau completed work on an environmentally friendly stadium in Kaohsiung (Taiwan). The dragon-shaped building is covered by a giant roof made up of 8844 solar panels. On days when the energy generated by them is not used to light the stadium, it enters the local network, covering 80% of its needs. The stadium annually prevents 660 tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Toyo Ito shows talent in many genres, including object design and theatrical scenery. In 2010, the architect became the owner of the Japanese Praemium Imperiale (Imperial Prize, awarded to artists “for their achievements, the spiritual enrichment of the entire world community”). A master of silence, Toyo Ito is actively building and has been working a lot in Barcelona lately.
At the end of 2010, the Porta Fira complex was put into operation – nine exhibition pavilions and two towers, where offices and a hotel are located. Of course, the towers are “green”, energy-saving, have a water recycling system, etc. “The architecture of the 20th century was abstract, it is the architecture of buildings that could be designed and built anywhere in the world.
In the 21st century, we must think about how to express a new way of life. In Barcelona, the city of Antoni Gaudí, seeing again its organic forms, still so alive, I used this path to achieve a new organic architecture.”