Spaces for a 21st century society - an interview with Toyo Ito

This January, Japanese architect Toyo Ito was awarded the DETAIL Honorary Prize 2011 for his fascinating and exceptionally diverse lifetime achievement. By selecting him, the Jury didn’t only honour a great architect, but also a pioneer who has ventured a unique path in the contemporary art of building, with his playful and seemingly weightless architecture. From the very beginning of his practice, the basic theme of his architecture was to reflect the changing nature of society in the information age. We meet Toyo Ito in his office, located in Tokyo’s vivid Aoyama neighbourhood and resembling a veritable workshop for experimentation. The use of countless design models for the development of spatial concepts is visibly and highly significant. During our interview, the architect repeatedly refers to the Sendai Mediatheque in Japan’s north-east, to this day his key project. Three weeks later, the city of Sendai is in the epicentre of the terrible earthquake and tsunami catastrophe that impacted Japan on May 11th. Ito’s masterwork remained largely unscathed.
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