Toyo Ito plans ‘architecture cram school’

The offices of world-renowned architect Toyo Ito have long been recognized as the unofficial training ground for successive generations of Japanese architects, including joint-Pritzker Prize winners Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa from the firm SANAA. Now, Ito is taking his mentoring to a new level, as he has just announced plans to launch his own architecture cram school in Tokyo, with the intent of nurturing both emerging architects and elementary school children.

Opening May 1, the privately-run ITO School will be located in Tokyo’s Kamiyacho neighborhood and will feature three primary curricula: an intensive, year-long “Architect Development Program” for selected students; a bi-monthly “Saturday Lectures” series for general students; and Japan’s first ever sustained educational initiative on architecture and urbanism targeting children between the ages of nine and 12, the “Children’s Architecture Cram School.”

Over 25 two-hour sessions led by Ito, his staff and guest lecturers, the Architect Development Program will cover topics including submitting to architectural competitions and conceptualizing the future of urbanism. The Saturday Lectures will address the fundamental issues of architecture in the 21st century, as well primal concerns related to the body and behavior, with plans to invite guests including artists, chefs, musicians and athletes. The 20-session Children’s Architecture Cram School will introduce to children concepts for looking at and thinking about architecture through the study of existing buildings, diagrams and models, and then move on to considering the schematics of urban and public space.

Limited to around 15 participants, the Architect Development Program is open to applications from students currently enrolled in accredited master’s degree programs in architecture or graduates of such programs as well as practicing architects. All applicants must submit a portfolio and essay for review and will be screened through an interview process. Applications for both the Architect Development Program and the Children’s Architecture Cram School were opened on Feb 21, while the bi-monthly Saturday Lectures requires repeated pre-registration. A representative of ITO School contacted by ART iT has confirmed that as long as they speak English and meet the necessary requirements, international applicants will be considered for the Architect Development Program. The representative told ART iT that English-language promotional materials are forthcoming.

The school is run by a nonprofit organization, Initiative for Tomorrow’s Opportunities in Architecture (ITO), the English-language acronym of which both references its founder and chairman Ito and provides the school’s namesake. The NPO is also supervising the development and construction of a new museum dedicated to Toyo Ito in the city of Imabari, Ehime, on the island of Omishima in the Seto Inland Sea between the island of Shikoku and the mainland. Provisionally called the Imabari Ito Toyo Architecture Museum, the museum is expected to open mid-2011, and activities there will be incorporated into the ITO School curriculum.

More information (JP only)

Architecture in Exhibition: Kazuyo Sejima
Architecture in Exhibition: Ryue Nishizawa

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