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3 Hidden Gems by Prominent Architects on Campus

By YUKI TAKAHASHI


When deciding on an university, the atmosphere of the campus might be one of importance to you. The two older campuses of the University of Tokyo - Hongo and Komaba - are basically a mix of quaint brick-made gothic architecture and post-WWII buildings. People tend to focus on old magnificent buildings, but among the new buildings on the campus, there are actually many remarkable ones designed by globally-known architects.


Here I introduce several of those amazing buildings and how to enjoy them.


1. Institute of Industrial Science


Located on the Komaba II Campus, the main building of the Institute of Industrial Science is designed by famous architect Hiroshi Hara (’59). He is known for his masterpiece of post-modern architecture, Umeda Sky Building, which was selected as one of the Top 20 Buildings around The World by British publishing company Dorling Kindersley.


In the Institute of Industrial Science, you will find a large void space penetrating the cuboid and some curious objects sticking out of the wall. You may feel as if you were in a concrete jungle.

This composition of the building is similar to another masterpiece of Hara’s works, Kyoto Station.


In the building are a variety of laboratories. If you want to get to know cutting-edge science research, I recommend you visiting there on Open Campus Day held in June every year.


Institute of Industrial Science | Photos by author.


2. Fukutake Hall


Fukutake Hall is located on just the left side of Akamon Gate in Hongo Campus. It was designed by Tadao Ando, a Pritzker winner who designed the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts in the US and the Shanghai Poly Grand Theatre in China. Ando is one of the most well-known architects in the world today.


Fukutake Hall hosts UT Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III) and Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Studies (GSII) and has many facilities for students of those schools. The design of the building is remarkable, as the concrete wall with two long slits constructed in front of the hall, which is called the Thinking Wall, captures the view and shows us the hall itself and the campus from a different angle.


There is also UT Café, which is open to anybody on the campus. You may enjoy drinking coffee and chatting with your friends there.


Fukutake Hall


3. The Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building


Walking through Kasuga Gate into Hongo Campus, you will see an interesting building with numerous small wooden panels. The Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building, which is also a facility for III and GSII, is designed by current UT professor Kengo Kuma (’79).


He won the competition for the New National Stadium and is a leading figure of the younger generation of Japanese architects. His works are characterized by their use of wood as material. You may have seen his architecture, since he designed many characteristic works incorporating Japanese traditional style, such as the Nezu Museum and the new Kabukiza Theater.


In this building, you can enjoy excellent wagashi (Japanese sweets). Kuriyagashi Kurogi, a Japanese sweets restaurant run by a luxurious Japanese cuisine restaurant Kurogi, tenants on the first floor. Collaborating with Sarutahiko Coffee in Ebisu, it provides a nice combination of coffee and traditional Japanese sweets. There is sometimes a long line of people waiting to get in.


The Daiwa Ubiquitous Computing Research Building


There are several other buildings designed by outstanding Japanese architects on Hongo Campus. The campuses of the University of Tokyo itself can be called a museum of architecture, as it exhibits both historical and contemporary buildings. If you are interested in architecture, a stroll around Komaba and Hongo will not disappoint.