This library for an art university located in the suburbs of Tokyo was designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito. It was completed in 2007. Passing through the main entrance gate, the site lies behind a front garden with small and large trees, and stretches up a gentle slope. The two-story building's exterior glass walls and large arches allow the contours of the natural environment surrounding the campus to extend into the interior creating an exhilaratingly open space. The first floor features an all-purpose and gallery space available to hold various events and exhibitions as well as a theater area with a big screen. At the back of the first floor, students are able to read the latest magazine issues and view video materials.
Concept The existing cafeteria was the sole place in the university shared by both students and staff members across all disciplines, the first impetus for the design was to provide an open community space for the whole faculty. The wide open gallery on the ground level serve as a passage for people crossing the campus, even without the intention of going to the library.
To let people freely enter and view the building, a structure of randomly placed arches create the sensation as if the sloping floor and the front garden's scenery were continuing within the building. These characteristic arches are made out of steel plates covered with concrete. They are arranged along curved lines which cross at several points. With these intersections, the arches are kept extremely slender at the bottom and still support the heavy live loads of the floor above. The spans of the arches vary from 1.8 to 16 metres, but the width is kept uniformly at 200mm.
The intersections of the rows of arches help to articulate softly separated zones within this one space. Shelves and study desks of various shapes, glass partitions that function as bulletin boards, etc., give these zones a sense of both individual character and visual as well as spatial continuity. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, one finds large art books on low bookshelves crossing under the arches. Between these shelves are study desks of various sizes. A large table with a state-of-art copy machine allows users to do professional editing work. The spatial diversity one experiences when walking through the arches different in span and height changes seamlessly from a cloister-like space filled with natural light, to the impression of a tunnel that cannot be penetrated visually.