The Toho Gakuen School of Music in Tokyo designed by Nikken Sekkei has recently been shortlisted alongside three other buildings in the running for the RIBA International Prize awarded every two years to the most inspirational and significant new buildings across the globe. A new virtuoso music school designed to visually connect rather than isolate practising musicians, this new open-plan campus replaced an earlier building on the site, which had a conventional arrangement of cellular practice rooms along a corridor with no natural light. Conversely, this virtuoso piece of architecture has an almost village-like quality with independent teaching spaces, neat communal spaces, and lots of natural light thanks to exposure to the exterior.
Guided by the imperative of optimum acoustics, the Japanese architects have ensured that each lesson room has a proportion and size requested by each instrument, and is arranged with a void space in between, such as a corridor, to provide acoustic separation. As a result, music from each room can be heard in the corridor, but in the rooms there is silence.
Toho Gakuen was founded in 1948 in Kudan (Tokyo) as the Music School for Children, and two years later opened the Toho High School of Music, to provide quality musical education to teenage girls. 1955 saw the establishment of the Junior College and in 1961 the Junior College becomes the Toho Gakuen College Music Department. The College of Music was a pioneer in offering university-level degrees in music in Japan. In 1995 the Toho Orchestra Academy was established in Toyama and in 1999 opened the Toho Gakuen Graduate School, which offers postgraduate degrees.
“We are greatly honoured that Toho Gakuen Music School has been shortlisted for the 2018 RIBA International Awards. The work aimed at breaking away from the typical model that can be seen in standard music schools…[and] are looking forward to seeing how our challenge of creating a new natural scenery from the overlapping of many kinds of parameters – perhaps a very Japanese approach to using computational design – is evaluated in the UK,” said Tomo Yamanashi of Japanese architecture practice NIKKEN SEKKEI.
Children Village, a new school complex on the edge of the rainforest in northern Brazil designed by Brazilian architects, Aleph Zero and Rosenbaum was selected as the winner of the 2018 RIBA International Prize. Other entries shortlisted for the award include:
– Il Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest), Milan, by Boeri Studio
The second of two residential towers in Milan in which trees and humans coexist, designed to set a new standard in sustainable housing.
– Central European University (Phase 1), Budapest, by O’Donnell + Tuomey
A new university campus in the heart of Budapest that successfully links old buildings and courtyards to create vibrant new spaces.