Toyo Ito


Japanese architect Toyo Ito was awarded the 2017 UIA Gold Medal at the UIA World Congress of Architects in Seoul (Korea). A pioneer of conceptual architecture and postmodernism, constantly exploring the potential of new forms in the built environment, he was also awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2013.

Can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?

We have been working on Japanese public architecture since the 1990s and are now undertaking two new public projects. Looking back at our past public projects, I realised that it is more important to create a space where people can be comfortable and have an enjoyable time no matter the program, than to create a space specifically for one program. I would like to create architecture that can provide comfortable spaces for people regardless of age.

National Taichung Theatre (Taiwan), Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects, ©Kai Nakamura

What is the starting point and creative process for your projects? 

I found that the interior spaces of my starting point “White U” and my recent project “National Taichung Theater” resemble each other. Both spaces remind us of space within a cave and I feel this cave-like space is my true spatial representation derived from my instinctive bodily senses. Rather than logically thinking about architecture, I find it important to go beyond logic and rely on the instinctive bodily senses that bring out the most creative essence of architecture.

Which of your projects best reflects your design philosophy and why?

“Sendai Mediatheque” reflects my design philosophy the most. Through this project, I tried to bring back nature into architecture by not designing from the functional point of view. In nature, people encounter many places and decide what to do according to the sense of place. By pursuing this process in architecture, people can choose a place freely and spend their time shifting between places. This project allowed me to aim a little bit beyond modernism, which is based on functionality.

Sendai Mediatheque (Japan) Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects

How do you see your work to evolving in the future?

By developing my design philosophy as described in your previous question, I would like to pursue rediscovering the relationship between architecture and nature that goes beyond functionalism, to create spaces that are freer and more comfortable, which modernist architecture was not able to achieve.