Tama Art University Library by Toyo Ito

This week,we’ll be looking at three projects by Toyo Ito. Not in an attempt to span or summarize his impressive and prolific body of work, rather just three great and recent projects. The first project, suggested by Bobby, is the Tama Art University Library.

Completed in 2007, the library is the only place on campus (other than the cafeteria) where the students and faculty across all of the university’s disciplines interact. The most prominent design feature of the project is the irregular series of concrete arches that accomplish a spatial variety without leaving those spaces feeling disconnected or insular. In a superb series of photographs by Iwan Baan, you’ll see the library uses mostly low, curvilinear book shelves that allow visual continuity across the library. But there are moments where the bookshelves bloom into sculpted irregular grids that fill entire archways.

I’m used to libraries feeling like regimented canyons: tall, narrow spaces defined by stacked shelves, but the Tama Art University Library seems more mysterious, like a forest. There are moments in traditional libraries where you can see people on the aisles parallel to yours through the gaps between books. Ito has constructed a space that removes the veil of books that can separate us from each other, and we can simply talk under graceful arcs of concrete.

Maybe we’ll ask where the fire sprinklers and air conditioning are hiding.


September 27, 2010