Sustainability of the Project
The material chosen for the exterior wall of the Art tower is titanium, which is known to be sustainable in two ways. Firstly, titanium is highly resistant to chemical attack, preventing it from undergoing corrosion and weathering. Secondly, being a material that is widely used for constructing an airplane, titanium is known to be both stiff and light.

Art Tower Mito by Arata Isozaki -Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet1
Description: Art Tower Mito ©www.jref.com

Difficulties in Construction

The financial problem would be the first difficulty encountered during the construction of the Art Tower Mito. The tower is the first project that used a large number of titanium panels in Japan. Titanium, the main construction material of the tower, is highly reactive during numerous manufacturing processes. The metal has to be treated differently during different stages of production, increasing the overall cost of the project. 

Another difficulty encountered would be the process of combining the titanium panels. A total of 57 units of 9.6 meters of assembled equilateral triangular panels are approximately 1 ton in weight. Therefore, bespoke hinges are equipped to the titanium panels, making them easier to be pulled into the structural truss after they are being lifted, also to adjust the panels into place.

Construction Techniques

Next, the edges of the large panels are combined by connecting to a junction – 1.5mmm stainless steel cut in φ95mm half circle. To secure the tower in terms of integrity, wind resistibility, and water sealing, the panels were tailor-made based on a careful calculation process.

As these glass windows are placed between the interior and exterior fittings, the windows are highly airtight. Meanwhile, they can also be opened.

Art Tower Mito by Arata Isozaki -Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet2
Close up of the Art Tower Mito ©www.kikukawa.com

Concept

The titanium tower is a 100 meters tall architecture, which was established in 1990 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mito as an official city. The tower is formed by pilling up 28 contiguous triangular pyramids; each pyramid is placed at a slightly different angle, forming a helix structure. Underneath the towers are some comprehensive cultural facilities, including an art gallery, concert hall, and theatre. 

Art Tower Mito by Arata Isozaki -Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet3
Structural model of the Art Tower Mito ©www.aeworldmap.com

Spatial Planning

The total floor area of the Tower Art Mito is 22432 square meters, which is further divided into 3 approximately equal spaces – a concert hall, a theatre, and an art gallery. 

The concert hall has 2 floors. Walking into the building, visitors will first arrive at the entrance hall. The hall occupies around 30% of the space. On the left of the entrance hall is a diamond-shaped concert hall with a circular canopy in the front. The seats are being placed on a ramp and are arranged into 3 groups that are facing the stage from 3 different directions.

Art Tower Mito by Arata Isozaki -Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet4
The plan of Concert Hall ATM ©Nagata Acoustics
Art Tower Mito by Arata Isozaki -Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet5
Concert Hall ATM ©www.ana.co.jp

The theatre has a circular configuration with balcony seats in 3 tiers that are arranged in C shape. The first and second balcony seats are reserved for visitors, while the third balcony is used by the audio and visual team. Besides, seats are also placed on the ground floor facing the stage.

Art Tower Mito by Arata Isozaki -Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet6
The plan of ATM Theatre ©Nagata Acoustics
Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet7
ATM Theatre ©www.ana.co.jp

The spatial arrangement in the art gallery is similar to other galleries. The 9 rectangular exhibition halls are divided by walls and are aligned on the same axis, where people can walk from one exhibition hall to another. 

Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet8
Contemporary Art Gallery ©www.ana.co.jp

User-centric Design 

The Art Tower Mito has a concert hall that is resident ensembled by the Mito Chamber Orchestra. They also host a variety of other musical events in all genres that are performed by both Japanese and foreign musicians, suiting audiences from all around the globe. The concert hall can hold more than 650 audiences, which is slightly more than the theatre. The highlight of the concert hall is the stage with changeable heights, which can be varied from 6.0m to 8.4m according to different types of performances.

Besides, the Art Tower Mito also has a theatre which is resident ensembled by the Acting Company Mito, a team of professional actors and amateurs who usually stage dramatic performances in the theatre. The ACM theatre can hold more than 600 audiences, and they welcome people of all ages. Not only does the theatre put on modern and classical theatre productions, but also rakugo and school performances. 

The third cultural facility in the Art Tower Mito is the Contemporary Art Gallery. There are a total of 9 galleries focused on contemporary art. To reinforce visitors’ understanding of the artworks on show and modern art, talks, and lectures are being hosted accordingly. 

Being the host of various cultural activities, the Art Tower Mito serves as the locus of creative activities, spreading the culture of art from Mito to the world.

Overall Design Brief and Ideology

The helix-like tower is 100 meters tall, representing the 100th anniversary of Mito as an official city. Upon closer observation, we can see that each large triangular panel is formed by combining 8 strips of 1.5mm thick hairline finished titanium, which looks like a food pyramid.

Windows are made onto the titanium panels. At the observation floor on the highest floor of the tower, there are 70 randomly separated circular windows of φ432mm and φ670mm. On the remaining triangular sides of the tower, a single line of φ432mm circular windows are located on one edge of each triangle.

Inspired by Tetrahedra - Sheet9
Close up of the Art Tower Mito ©www.okclassicalmusic.com

References: 

  1. Art Tower Mito. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.kikukawa.com/en/product/art-tower-mito/
  2. Art Tower Mito. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-museums/art-tower-mito
  3. Titanium Advantages and Disadvantages. (2020). Retrieved June 07, 2020, from https://kyocera-sgstool.co.uk/titanium-resources/titanium-information-everything-you-need-to-know/titanium-advantages-and-disadvantages/
  4. Concert Hall ATM in Art Tower Mito, Mito. (1990). Retrieved 7 June 2020, from https://www.nagata.co.jp/sakuhin/factsheets/mitoconcerthall.pdf
  5. ART TOWER MITO, ACM Theatre. (1990). Retrieved 7 June 2020, from https://www.nagata.co.jp/sakuhin/factsheets/mitotheatre.pdf
Tsz Kiu Pun
Author

Josephine Pun is a student who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Being a storyteller, journal and photography are channels that she uses to express her unique perception of architecture. Read her articles and experience architecture without leaving your couch!

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