Sendai Media centre – Discussion 17

Nature has been the inspiration for everything fine in life – from high art to the most complex science and even brilliant architecture. The Media center and Library in Sendai, conceived by Ar.Toyo Itto providing a fine example of a most thoughtful interpretation of natural order in built form.  It was this remarkable building that was the subject of the video presentation that occupied our discussion hour this Tuesday.

The Media center is based on a simple structural system of hollow cylinders formed by seemingly random arrangement of steel tubes – reminiscent of branches of a huge tree. The floors are stacked on these pillars creating spatial orders that identify with the function of the particular area. The ground floor – which extends beyond the setback limits open out into the street forming an open café and resting area blurring the boundaries between the built area and the street separated only by a clear glass façade which can be drawn back effortlessly.
The spatial order of the buildings defies any particular definition and echoes the architect’s feeling that rectangles limit – both movement and imagination. Walls at right angles are provided only when function deems it necessary. The walls are otherwise built on an organic plan or, as in the case of the exhibition center – even rendered moveable. The interior of the building is sparse – simple and minimalistic but shines with a warmth unseen in other modern buildings, with the exposed structural system adding to the character of the space.
The inherent honesty of the architectural language is evident even in the elevations – which is a mixture of plain glass, frosted glass and cladding.  The clear glass facades allow for uninhibited view while the frosted areas are for spaces that require a degree of privacy.  The entire complex is a testimony to the use of modern technology to create building that relate to the context and fit into its site.
The video evoked an enthusiastic response. While Rini confessed that while she was of the opinion that any building that satisfies its users and is clean and organized functionally is acceptable, it definitely needs that special artistic touch, the poetic factor to be called good architecture.  She added that Sendai Media center fits into the category of the buildings that responds to the traditional character of its location albeit in an extremely abstract manner.
Tony posed the question of the feasibility of building such structures in India. The group was divided on this, but came to the conclusion that we were, perhaps, quite far from accomplishing this feat. However, it was agreed that we had, of our own, certain skill sets that had the potential to create architecture that can stand apart, even globally. An example was given of “The Akshar Dham” temple in New Delhi which can only be termed beautiful.
Our discussion concluded with emphasis on the need to think beyond the obvious and contemplate on the emerging architectural language which gives utmost prominence to material honesty and distilled simplicity
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