The Pritzker Prize–winning architect Toyo Ito is gifting his archives to the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) Collection in Montreal. The gift consists of ephemera representing Ito’s works from 1971 to 1995 by his Tokyo-based office Urban Robot (URBOT), which was later renamed Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects.
Among the donations are drawings and models of White U, a house completed in 1976 Ito designed for his sister and her family known for its lightness, openness, and experimental nature. Ito’s gift also includes drafts of his Aluminum House, otherwise known as URBOT-001; the Useless Capsule House (URBOT-002); and the House at Kogenai, completed in 1979.
Many of the projects Ito’s firm produced in those years were private homes that were emblematic of a particular window in time for Japan, the CCA says. Projects like URBOT-001 and the Useless Capsule House are representative of when the country was rapidly urbanizing and embracing consumerism, the Centre continued.
Conversations about relocating Ito’s archive from Tokyo to Montreal first emerged in 2018 when the CCA hosted a series of talks at Ito’s Tokyo office engaging with his work, curated by Kayoko Ota. The CCA c/o Tokyo program invited intellectuals Koji Ichikawa, Makoto Ueda, Maki Onishi, and Yuki Hyakuda to revisit Ito’s early projects.
Fast forward five years later, Ito’s decision to donate his archive is meant to encourage new readings of his work, and put his corpus of projects into dialogue with the other artifacts in the CCA’s impressive collection, the architect stated in a press release.
“The CCA is an architectural museum and research centre I have the utmost trust in,” Ito shared in a statement. “Upon this donation, I received requests from many Japanese architects and researchers, asking if it is possible to keep those archives in Japan. However, I have the confidence that CCA offers unparalleled accessibility for future researchers from around the world to study my works.”
At present, the CCA Collection houses the archives of other luminaries such as the late Jean-Louis Cohen, Cedric Price, Anthony Vidler, Aldo Rossi, Álvaro Siza, Gordon Matta-Clark, John Hejduk, Bernard Tschumi, and others.
Kayoko Ota, curator of the CCA c/o Tokyo program, is enthusiastic about adding Ito’s work to the list. “I’m excited by the donation of Toyo Ito’s archive to the CCA, which marks a significant move for architectural archiving,” Ota said. “These historically valuable documents of contemporary Japanese architecture will now be shared among the international community, breaking through geographical and language barriers. The record of how the architect unfolded new possibilities in architecture beyond struggles with modernism and consumerist culture, I believe, has a tremendous potential to expand our knowledge and understanding of contemporary architecture.”
Ito’s archives are expected to arrive at the CCA in the coming weeks.