Contemporary Architecture

Rafael Viñoly – Tokyo International Forum


Principal Characteristics and Design Considerations:

  • Large column free spaces (Efficient structural system)
  • Pedestrian Movement
  • Clarity in organization of space
  • Display Area
  • Openings for entry of large exhibits
  • Lighting and Ventilation
  • Services (Electrical and HVAC)

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan:

  • Completed: 1997
  • Client:  Tokyo Metropolitan Government
  • Architect: Rafael Viñoly
  • Structural: Structural Design Group Co.,Ltd
  • Site Area: 21,000 square m
  • Building Area: 7,360 square m
  • Total Floor Area: 40,400 square m
  • Length : 208 meters, Width : 31.7 meters, Height : 57.5 meters
  • Total Steel Weight : 6,600 Ton.
  • The main elements of the Forum are a 60 meter high hull-shaped glass and steel atrium on the west end of the site and a cluster of block like buildings, housing the theaters, restaurants and shops, along the east end of the site.

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Contemporary Architecture

Kisho Kurokawa – Nagakin Capsule tower

About the architect:

  • Born in Kanie, Aichi, Kurokawa studied architecture at Kyoto University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1957.
  • Kurokawa received a master’s degree in 1959 from University of Tokyo.
  • Kurokawa then went on to study for a doctorate of philosophy, but subsequently dropped out in 1964.
  • Cofounded the metabolist movement  in 1960, whose members were known as Metabolists
  • was a radical Japanese avant -garde  (advance guard)movement pursuing the merging and recycling of architecture styles within an Asian context
  • Vision- cities of the future were characterized by large scale, flexible, and expandable structures that evoked the processes of organic growth

Philosophy of metabolism:

  1. Impermanence
  2. Materiality
  3. Details
  4. Receptivity

Nagakin Capsule tower:

  • Based on philosophy of metabolism.
  • first capsule architecture design.
  • originally designed as a Capsule Hotel to provide economical housing for businessmen working late in central Tokyo during the week.
  • 14-story high Tower has 140 capsules stacked at angles around a central core.


  • Install the capsule units into the concrete core
  • Units  detachable and replaceable
  • 1 capsule – 4×2.5m
  • Modified shipping  container –interior preassembled in factory

Metabolism in Nagakin Capsule Tower:

  • IMPERMANENCE:removable ,interchangeable  capsules
  • DETAILS – detailed connections
  • MATERIALITY– pipe work , ductwork were not hidden
  • RECEPTIVITY– building ready for change


  • New way of interpreting today’s culture-
  • Philosophy of   ‘both – and’ not ‘either-or’

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Contemporary Architecture

TOYO ITO – TOD’s Omotesando

  • Honorary Fellowship of AIA
  • Honorary Fellowship of RIBA
  • Commissioner of Kumamoto Artpolis
1941 Born in Seoul Metropolitan City
1965 Graduated from The University of Tokyo, Department of Architecture
Worked at Kiyonori Kikutake Architects and Associates
1971 Started his own studio, Urban Robot (URBOT) in Tokyo
1979 Changed its name to Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects
1986 Architecture Institute of Japan awards for “Silver Hut”
1992 33rd Mainich Art Award for Yatsushiro Municipal Museum
1999 Japan Art Academy Prize for “Dome in Odate”
2003 Architectural Institute of Japan Prize for “Sendai Mediatheque”
2004 XX ADI Compasso d’Oro Award for “Ripples” (furniture design)
2006 Royal Gold Medal from The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
2008 6th Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts 



  • 1991 – Yatsushiro Municipal Museum
  • 1994 – Old People’s Home in Yatsushiro
  • 2001 – Sendai Mediatheque (Actar, Barcelona)
  • 2002 – Commissioned to design a temporary pavilion adjacent to the Serpentine Gallery, in Hyde Park, London
  • 2002 – Bruges pavilion
  • 2004 -Matsumoto Performing Art Center, Matsumoto
  • 2004 –TOD’s Omotesando Building, Tokyo
  • 2006 -Taichung Opera International Competition in Taiwan
  • 2006 -VivoCity Singapore at HarbourFront
  • 2008 -World Games Stadium in Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • 2008 -Villa for Chilean architectural project Ochoalcubo.
  • 2009 -Suites Avenue Building, Barcelona, Spain
  • 2009 -Water Fountain in Pescara
  • 2009 -Torre Fira BCN Building, Barcelona, Spain


  • Toyo Ito is inspired from philosophers such as Munesuke Mita and Gilles Deleuze.
  • Ito has defined architecture as “clothing” for urban dwellers i.e. equilibrium between the private life and the metropolitan, “public” life of an individual.
  • His work are very difficult to categorize.
  • He believes in lightness and transparency.
  • And follows organic design.
  • Explores the potentials of new forms and shapes.

TOD’s Omotesando,Tokyo, Japan

  • LOCATION : Omotesando, the tree-lined boulevard of Tokyo.
  • CLIENT : Tod’s, the Italian leather-goods company.
  • DESIGN CHALLENGE :Only 33 feet of street front space but has to create an identiy.

About the building:

  • Building is the Japanese Headquarters for the TOD’S – the Italian leather goods company.
  • Only the bottom two levels are open to the public.
  • The upper levels are for offices and meeting rooms.
  • “Trees are organisms that stand by themselves, so their shape has an inherent, structural rationality” –Toyo Ito
  • Design – Silhouettes of nine trees were overlapped to create the six walls of the L-shaped building
  • The trees were designed of concrete, 12 inches thick and bear all the structures load.
  • The interior is seven stories of column free space.
  • As the building grows higher, the branches begin to split and thin out until they reach the top.
  • “We did not use any special algorithm to determine their size, but we tried to keep the elements from getting too small.” – TOYO ITO
  • The space in between all the branches turns into 270 unique openings.
  • The openings grow smaller closer to the roof.
  • Openings are filled with both glass and aluminum panels
  • “Instead of openings cut into a solid concrete volume, transparency and opacity are on an equal footing.” – Architectural Record
  • The entrance is the largest opening, – A triple height.
  • Load is carried by excellent path that the concrete tree creates.
  • Also the floor slabs are 20 inches deep and carry all the interior loads to the exterior walls.
  • Whole of the interior is a column free space.
  • Stairs are placed in the extreme ends of the retail space.
  • An advantage this is that, displays can be rearranged and put virtually anyway.
  • On the roof is a glass encased meeting room as well as a mixture of grass patches and travertine paving.

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Contemporary Architecture

Kisho Kurokawa – National Art Center


  • Born in Nagoya in central Japan in 1934
  • President, The Japan Society of Landscape Design
  • Advisor, Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • President, KKAA (Kisho Kurokawa architect & associates)


  • Graduated Kyoto University, B. / Arch. Course, Department of Architecture (1957),
  • Tokyo University, M. / Arch. Course, Graduate School of Architecture (1959)
  • Tokyo University, Dr. / Arch. Course, Graduate School of Architecture (1964).

His publication

  • Urban Design
  • Homo Movens
  • Thesis on Architecture I and II
  • The Era of Nomad
  • Philosophy of Symbiosis
  • Hanasuki
  • Poems of Architecture
  • Kisho Kurokawa Note
  • Revolution of City

“Philosophy of Symbiosis”, which was awarded the Japan Grand Prix of Literature, was first published in 1987 and was revised in 1991. The book  was cited Excellence from the AIA in 1992.

In 1960, at the age of 26, he made his debut into the world as one of the founders of the Metabolism Movement.

Since then, he has been advocating the paradigm shift from the Age of Machine Principle to the Age of Life Principle.


  • His concept he advocated such as Symbiosis, Metabolism, Information, Recycle, Ecology, Intermediate Space, Fractal, Ambiguity.
  • All are important concept based on Life Principle

Major works:

  • The National Ethnological Museum
  • Nagoya City Art Museum
  • Helix City
  • Osaka International Convention Center
  • Kisho Kurokawa’s Dinosaur Museum in Katsuyama
  • The Museum of Modern Art, Wakayama
  • The tower of the Pacific, Paris-Defense (1993)
  • Flower Hill Museum (1999)
  • Nagakin Apartments(1972)
  • The Japanese Nursing Association Building
  • National Art Center, Tokyo (2006)
  • Maggie`s Centre,England(2006)

National Art Center, Roppongi, Tokyo

  • Design / Construction:2000-2006
  • National Art Center, Tokyo is a perfect expression of his philosophy of  symbiosis.
  • “One of my intentions with the design was to be fuzzy. Great art and architecture should be fuzzy. If it is easy to understand, it is functional like a factory. People can say, ‘this is the entrance way, this is the exit.’ But this is not art. I wanted to create ambiguity and alittle bit of confusion. This is what makes peoplethink, or takes them into a maze.”
  • The fuzziness Kurokawa talks about can be seen in the wavy line of the art center’s facade. He has created a melodious surface that is, like waves or hills, harmonious but never repetitive.
  • Building Area :          12,989sqm
  • Total Floor Area :     49,846sqm
  • 2 basement floors + 6 floors
  • It is the largest exhibition space in a single building in Japan. Around 15,900 square meters
  • It is intended to feature several large exhibitions at once.
  • The facade itself is 100 percent transparent, but it also completely cuts out the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
  • Also extended the ironwood floor that is inside the building to the area outside the facade. That makes people feel very ambiguous and wonder whether they are inside or outside.
  • the real element of genius in this design remains the feature that will have the strongest effect on visitors — the facade. As a perfect expression of the symbiosis of exterior and interior, Kurokawa makes it work in both directions.
  • From the outside, its naturally undulating surface seems to react to the trees and the wind, while from the inside, it seems to dance around two large inverted concrete cones, which look like petrified tornadoes and are central to the functional requirements of the building.
  • Floor made from extremely durable Ulin ironwood imported from Borneo, this floor is designed to give the building an aged and even primitive texture that will exist alongside its obvious modernity. This symbiosis of primitive and modern is further developed by the use of wicker furnishings and a bamboo garden in a courtyard on the top floor, contrasting with such hi-tech features as cleaning robots and light-saving motion sensors.
  • They wanted a restaurant and a cafe in the atrium, so he decided to place them above.
  • To maximize the floor space below he simply reduced the base of each structure, which created the cone shapes.
  • The National Art Center, Tokyo will not be a space for archiving works of art, but is a space for exhibiting public open exhibits and travelling exhibits.
  • The building is made up of seven enormous column-less display rooms, each 2000m², a library, an auditorium, a restaurant, a cafe and a museum shop.
  • The jurying process for these types of exhibitions will begin in the basement, where works will be brought in one by one at the loading area and only the pieces selected will be brought by service elevator to the display blocks.

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Contemporary Architecture

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building by Kenzo Tange

Below is a presentation on Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building done by Kenzo Tange. I have also added a video from YouTube. Hope you find it useful.

Personal information:

  • An influential protagonist of the Structuralist movement.
  • He believed in combining traditional Japanese styles with modernism.
  • Influenced from an early age by the Swiss modernist, Le Corbusier
  • Winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building(1991)


  • Computer Chip
  • Gothic Cathedral
  • Traditional Japanese houses.

TMG No. 1 Building

  • The exterior surfaces covered with geometric pattern executed in granite
  • Earthquake resistant structure
  • Observation desk at the top
  • At the top of each tower are satellite dishes pointing in all directions.

TMG No. 2 Building:

  • The smaller building housing government offices is located to the south of the main building.
  • The two structures are joined by the multi-story portico .
  • The style of the south building is less vertical and takes on the form of a cluster of buildings.


  • Acts as an unifying element
  • The portico wraps gently around the plaza, joining it to the main building as well as the assembly hall.
  • Sculptures

The Plaza:

  • The fan-shaped plaza, modeled on the famous Campo in Siena,
  • Acts as a separation
  • Slopes gently up as one moves away from the main structure.
  • An oasis of rare harmony and tranquillity

The assembly hall:

  • The assembly hall is a circular metal-clad structure which looms over the plaza from above the portico.
  • A round window placed at its center

Yoyogi National Gymnasium(1964) v/s Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building(1991):

  • Fusion of eastern and western elements
  • One based on structural principle other on futuristic principle
  • Shift to Monumental Structures from his minimalist ideologies

Conclusion :

  • Kenzo Tange’s attempt to embrace the postmodernist movement of the eighties.
  • Deviation from his general idea of Traditional Japanese Architecture
  • The perfect architectural incarnation of modern Japan

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (東京都庁舎 Tōkyō Tochōsha), also referred to as Tokyo City Hall
or Tochō (都庁) for short, houses the headquarters of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which governs not only
the 23 wards, but also the cities, towns and villages that make up Tokyo as a whole.
Located in Shinjuku, it held the title of the tallest building (by roof height) in Tokyo, at 243 meters (799 feet), from
1991 to late 2006, when it surrendered its title upon the completion of Midtown Tower. The two top-floor panoramic
observation decks are free of charge to the public and contain many gift shops. They are open till 11 pm on
weekdays. Use of cameras is permitted, but tripods are forbidden.
The building consists of a complex of three structures, each taking up a city block. The tallest and most prominent of
the three is Tokyo Metropolitan Main building No.1, a tower 48 stories tall that splits into two sections at the 33rd
floor. The building also has three levels below ground. The design of the building (which was meant to resemble a
computer chip), by architect Kenzo Tange (and associates), has many symbolic touches, most notably the
aforementioned split which re-creates the look of a Gothic cathedral.
Finished in 1991 at the expense of ¥157 billion (about US$ 1 billion) of public money, a popular nickname for
Tochō is “Tax Tower”.
The other two buildings in the complex are the eight-story Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly Building (including one
underground floor) and Tokyo Metropolitan Main Building No.2, which has 37 stories including three below ground.