awards: 2010 Praemium Imperiale, 2013 Pritzker Prize, Praemium Imperiale, Pritzker Prize
Toyo Ito (伊東豊雄, Itō Toyo’o; 1941-) is considered “one of the world’s most innovative and influential architects” (Designboom).
Ito is known for creating extreme conceptual architecture, in which he seeks to melt the physical and virtual worlds. He is a leading exponent of architecture that addresses issues of the contemporary notion of a ‘simulated’ city.
Ito was born in Seoul, South Korea (at the time, Japan had colonized the country). Ito graduated from Tokyo University’s, Department of Architecture in 1965. After working for Kiyonori Kikutake Architect and Associate from 1965 to 1969, he started his own studio, ‘Urban Robot’ (urbot) in 1971, in Tokyo. In 1979, the studio changed its name to Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects.
Throughout his career, Toyo Ito has been able to produce a body of work that combines conceptual innovation with superbly executed buildings. Creating outstanding architecture for more than 40 years, he has successfully undertaken libraries, houses, parks, theaters, shops, office buildings and pavilions, each time seeking to extend the possibilities of architecture and create a unique building which is specific to each individual site.
Whoever reviews Ito’s works notices not only a variety of functional programs, but also a spectrum of architectural languages. He has gradually developed and perfected a personal architectural syntax, which combines structural and technical ingenuity with formal clarity. His forms do not comply with either a minimalist or a parametric approach. Different circumstances lead to different answers. From the outset, he developed works that were modern, using standard industrial materials and components for his lightweight structures, such as tubes, expanded meshes, perforated aluminum sheeting and permeable fabrics. His later expressive works have been formed using mostly reinforced concrete. In a truly extraordinary way, he is able to keep structure, space, setting, technology, and place on equal footing. Although the resulting buildings seem effortlessly in balance, they are the result of his deep knowledge of his craft and his ability to deal with all the aspects of architecture simultaneously. In spite of the complexity of his works, their high degree of synthesis means that his works attain a level of calmness that ultimately allows the inhabitants to freely develop their activities within them.
“I think that architecture is supposed to be something that links people to other people, architecture has to become a form of cooperation, a co-operational body for people. It should not be something that is controlled by economy, but that creates a relationship of trust among people. This is what architects are supposed to do when they create architecture.” – Toyo Ito on the role of an architect.
Toyo Ito is known in Japan to raise a talented younger generation of architects. Architects who worked for his office include, Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), Klein Dytham, and Katsuya Fukushima.