About Toyo Ito

Toyo Ito is one of the most renowned architecture in Japan. As an initial step to design the whole project, he attentively observes Japanese Society. From the early days of his career, he pursues the lightness of architecture that almost disappears, at that time it was a sensation in the architecture field because his concept was totally opposed to what the conservatives prefer. He aimed to create the new form of relationship between structure and human. He said that most of the architectures in Japan lost their social functions. Therefore, Toyo Ito intended to create the new form of the relationship through his works. He viewed the city with the consideration of how buildings can make harmony with society. These thoughts are clearly expressed in his conceptual model of ‘Sendai Mediatheque’ in Japan (Image 1).

Image 1) The concept model of ‘Sendai Mediatheque(1995)’ Toyo Ito

In 1995, his design had been declared as the winner of the competition held by the city of Sendai, Japan. The model is structured with three main elements; linear planes, external skin and reticular columns. The linear planes and exterior surface are made of laser cut acrylic, and reticular columns were made of hand threaded neoprene cord. He minimized the number of materials to avoid adding additional elements. This type of composition makes entire buildings lighten. He placed blue and white colored lights to present his concept adequately. Each level is open plan, traversed solely by the reticular columns that act as the conductor of light.

My model was inspired by Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), The general impression of the external features of MCA made me think that it does not harmonize with its surroundings. By following Toyo Ito’s way of viewing the city; I began to reflect on how the connection can be created between architectures and society. I planned to build public space where people can move around without being constricted by the surroundings.

Image 2) The iteration 1 to 3 (top to bottom) Seungjin Lee (2017)
Image 3) iterations 4 to 5 (top to bottom) Seungjin Lee (2017)

I prepared five iterations to find out the best way to express the concept of Toyo Ito (image 2 and 3). For the final model (Image 4), I used woods, white foam boards, and acrylic sheets. However, once all materials were combined, the whole impression was entirely different from the concept of Toyo Ito. The reason is that he mainly used acrylic as substitution of glasses in the model, which means that the audience can receive the cold impression from his work. On the other hand, my model has been built up with the materials as mentioned earlier with few numbers of trees to add some greenish to the building. As a result, the audience receives the natural and warm impression of my work.
I intended to create a different atmosphere from Ito’s work, at the same time, I also aimed to keep his perspective and central concept. To lighten the appearance of the building, the thin pieces of woods and the slender layers of white foam board were used to emphasize the lightness of the building. Additionally, people can hardly recognize the discrepancy between the interior and exterior of the building with the extensively opened spaces created in the model.

Image 4) Final model — front view ,Seungjin Lee(2017)
Image 5) Final model — back side, left side ( left to right), Seungjin Lee (2017)


  • Sophie, R. & Sophie, S.1991, TOYO ITO : Architecture of the ephemeral. 1st edn. Du Moniteur, Paris.
  • Maffei, A, 2002, Toyo Ito: Works Projects Writing (Documenti Di Architettura) 1 st edn. Phaidon Press, Milano.

Image reference

  • Toyo Ito. 1995, Sendai Mediatheque, viewed 16 March 2017, < http://www.toyo-ito.co.jp/WWW/Project_Descript/2000-/2000-p_04/2000-p_04_en.html>