Globally-recognized japanese architect Toyo Ito (Pritzker 2013) has completed the ‘Toyo Ito Museum of Architecture’ (TIMA) on the island of Omishima, making it the first museum in Japan dedicated to the work of an individual architect.
Situated on a site overlooking the seto inland sea, the holistic form of the structure is sculpted to mimic the deck of a ship. Read as a three-dimensionally graphic object, the multi-level museum features a skin constructed out of steel sheeting. The faceted faces tilted at a variety of angles lend the exterior a dynamic yet matte aesthetic that establishes a strong and modern identity on the lush site.
Contrasting yet playful, the museum demonstrates a clear structural organization that translates itself into a bold carving of interior spaces. An adjacent structure featuring a series of arches accommodates a workshop and library as a freestanding pavilion. the structural skeleton of the spans are left exposed to highlight the details of the roof.
The project consists of two buildings named “Steel Hut” for the exhibition of Ito’s works and “Silver Hut”, a reenactment of his own house for workshop activities and events. “Steel Hut” is situated on the ridge part of a hilly site, “Silver Hut” on the valley part of the land.
During the early stages of “Steel Hut” the architects generated forms of architecture that were related to the undulating ground. After various studies, the proposal developed into a geometric structure which is independent from its surrounding landscape. Four types of 3m-sided polyhedron modules, which can be freely assembled and closely packed, were used to create this building. Each unit has two kinds of wall slant angles.
Consequently, there are no clear definite planes for ceilings, walls or floors. The space has a centripetal quality that creates an experience similar to being within a sphere. When visitors move from one room to another, the inclined walls unfold panoramically. This unique quality of the space enables unusual ways of exhibition completely different from the orthodox exhibition space based on a standard grid.
“Silver Hut” was constructed on the valley part of the land structurally employing the has the same methodology as the original private house. The arch-like roof made from rhombic frames is bridged over beams placed on concrete pillars set at 3.6m intervals.
In this building, there are three main spaces – an archive space for visitors to review architectural drawings of approximately 90 works of Toyo Ito, an outdoor workshop space and a space with furniture designed by Teruaki Ohashi and used in the original “Silver Hut”.
The outdoor workshop space with roof is a comfortable place with adequate wind flows, and it can be used not only for workshops with local people but also as a relaxation spot for visitors to freely enjoy and look at the sea. On the exterior of the museum, there are three pieces of steel architectural models on display as well as a warehouse named “Timber Hut.” Visitors can stroll and appreciate them in the garden.
The final fragment is the Iwata Museum, a circular concrete wall with no roof housing the bronze statues of Iwata’s “Mother and Child” sequence. The structure mimics the circular movement of the finger we make when finding something on a map, a circle that contains a world. The lawn inside the circle is enhanced by “architectural presence”: light shines through slits in the wall, the quadrant of sky is exactly the way Ito wanted it, and outside sounds are amplified by the shape of the entrance. The island’s kami is distilled by the circle so that visitors experience a condensed version of the Japan’s interior landscape, hare no kuni.
Location: Imabari, Japan
Architect: Toyo Ito & Associates
Structure Steel Hut: steel frame, reinforced concrete
Structure Silver Hut: reinforced concrete, steel frame
Structure Iwata Museum: reinforced concrete
Scale Steel Hut: 2 stories / Silver Hut: 2 stories
Scale Iwata Museum: 1 story
Site Area: 6,295.36m2
Building Area: Steel Hut: 194.92m2 / Silver Hut: 168.32m2
Total Floor Area: Steel Hut: 168.99m2 / Silver Hut: 188.32m2 / Iwata Museum 1,912m2