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Junya Ishigami and Sou Fujimoto among those enlisted for Pavilion Tokyo 2021

Featuring a roster of eight Japanese architects and artists, the project is part of the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL, which will run alongside the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

by STIRworldPublished on : Apr 06, 2021

As part of the Pavilion Tokyo 2021 program, six globally acclaimed Japanese architects and two renowned artists have been enlisted to design temporary pavilions in conjunction with Tokyo's forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games. The pavilions will be located at various points within approximately a three-kilometre radius from the Japan National Stadium, designed by Kengo Kuma. Commissioned to showcase the future of Japanese art and architecture, the pavilions are part of the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13 project, Pavilion Tokyo 2021. The project's roster currently includes Terunobu Fujimori, Kazuyo Sejima, Sou Fujimoto, Junya Ishigami, Akihisa Hirata, Teppei Fujiwara, Makoto Aida, and Yayoi Kusama.

Pavilion design by Teppei Fujiwara| Pavilion Tokyo 2021| Japan | STIRworld
Pavilion design by Teppei Fujiwara Image: Courtesy of Teppei Fujiwara Architects Labo, and Pavilion Tokyo 2021

Consisting of numerous cultural programs in the build-up to the 2021 Summer Olympics, the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL aims to create an inclusive environment that promotes local artistic creativity, encourages interactions between nations, and advances Tokyo's image as a diverse hub of art and culture. Within the program, a series of exhibitions, performances, and activities in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's cultural venues will occur in tandem with art events that use the city as their stage.

Pavilion design by Kazuyo Sejima| Pavilion Tokyo 2021| Japan | STIRworld
Pavilion design by Kazuyo Sejima Image: Kazuyo Sejima, Courtesy of Pavilion Tokyo 2021

One such initiative is the Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13, which comprises 13 projects chosen from 2,436 proposals submitted from Japan and other countries. The program had initially kicked off in September 2019, but events scheduled between April and September 2020 were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the initiative's relaunch in 2021, the projects on display will include a wide array of typologies and genres that are bursting with creativity and a desire to confront obstacles while paving the way for future possibilities.

Pavilion design by Makoto Aida | Pavilion Tokyo 2021 | Japan | STIRworld
Pavilion design by Makoto Aida Image: Miyajima Kei, © AIDA Makoto, Courtesy of Mizuma Art Gallery

Among the proposed pavilion designs that have been released to the public is Sou Fujimoto's fluffy, cloud-shaped structure, perched atop three slender angled supports to provide shade to passers-by. Additionally, Junya Ishigami's pavilion design envisions a peculiar, mystifying landscape with fluid canopies that blend with the surrounding natural environment, while Makoto Aida's proposal depicts traditional Japanese castles.

Pavilion design by Akihisa Hirata| Pavilion Tokyo 2021| Japan | STIRworld
'Global bowl' pavilion design by Akihisa Hirata Image: Akihisa Hirata, Courtesy of Pavilion Tokyo 2021

Terunobu Fujimori and Akihisa Hirata revealed the inspiration behind their designs during interviews conducted in late 2019 - available on the program's website. Hirata's 'Global Bowl' proposal features a large bowl-shaped structure with irregularly shaped openings and intricate connecting elements, designed to reflect the 'simmering' atmosphere created by the Olympic Games as a melting pot of people from various nationalities and backgrounds. The pavilion also references the National Stadium's bowl shape on a smaller scale, providing a more intimate condensed environment teeming with energy and vibrancy. Hirata intended for it to be assembled of 3D cut wood pieces, fusing traditional materials with modern construction techniques as a symbol for the integration of technology, nature, and the city.

Pavilion design by Terunobu Fujimori| Pavilion Tokyo 2021| Japan | STIRworld
Pavilion design by Terunobu Fujimori Image: Terunobu Fujimori, Courtesy of Pavilion Tokyo 2021

On the other hand, Fujimori's proposal is an elevated tea room resembling a turret or lantern, designed using the Olympics as an opportunity to display Japanese hospitality. The pavilion's location will provide a view of the National Stadium from its raised interior. Its tapering 'body' is to be covered in grass, while the tea room itself will be made of baked, carbonised Yakisugi wood.

Pavilion design by Junya Ishigami| Pavilion Tokyo 2021| Japan | STIRworld
Pavilion design by Junya Ishigami Image: Junya Ishigami + Associates, Courtesy of Pavilion Tokyo 2021

As one of the 13 projects within the program's roster, Pavilion Tokyo 2021 will be organised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture). Staffs from the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art designed, by Mario Botta, form a core team of the project's Executive Committee established to carry out the program's planning and production.

All of the designs released so far are provisional and subject to changes, with more information accessible on the project’s website. According to the organisers, visitors will be encouraged to roam the city with a map to discover and experience each of the project's eight commissioned pavilions, treating their expedition as a treasure hunt. The pavilions will be open from July 1 until the Paralympic Games’ closing day on September 5, 2021.

(Text by Jerry Joe Elengical, an intern at

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