University Library in Tokyo

In his buildings, Toyo Ito likes to experiment with unusual structures, examples being the Sendai Mediatheque, where he used irregular steel “trees”, and the Serpentine-Gallery pavilion in 2002, where the design of the loadbearing facades derived from an algorithm. His new library on the campus of an art university in Tokyo features visual-concrete arches of varying span widths arranged continuously along curving, intersecting lines. This irregular grid, an abstract interpretation of a vaulted hall, opens up long views, both inside the building and to the world outside. Because of the unusual design of the arches – a steel arch core encased in concrete – it was possible to keep a very slim cross section, at just 20 cm throughout. The ground floor slopes to match the gradient of the terrain. Here, the foyer and café area, complete with temporary theatre, were designed as a semi-open thoroughfare, to encourage students and employees from the various institutes and departments to use the library as a meeting place. From the foyer visitors can see further inside, through a continuous curved glass wall, to the multimedia stations and long tables laid out with the latest issues of magazines. A concerted effort was made in the design of the ground floor to tempt visitors to venture further inside, to read, explore and browse.
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