Kumamoto Artpolis: Architecture through Communication

From May 16 to June 8, 2005, the Japan Foundation in Toronto presents the Kumamoto Artpolis exhibition, a contemporary architecture and urban design initiative led by Kumamoto Prefecture since 1988.

The aim of Artpolis is to create innovative architecture in the region to leave a lasting cultural heritage for future generations. The project is coordinated by an administrative office, which assists local private businesses or governmental authorities in enhancing the quality of their building projects. The Commissioner recommends architects from Japan or around the world to design each project within the prefecture.

The majority of projects created through Artpolis have been public buildings. Most were built in the first nine years (1988-1997) under Commissioner Arata Isozaki. Projects on display include public housing, community centres, museums, schools and bridges.

In the second phase of the project (1998-present), under Commissioner Teiichi Takahashi and Vice-Commissioner Toyo Ito, a program called “Building Our Community” was introduced. The program is a year-long series of workshops between architects and the community to discuss a project being planned by the local government. The purpose of the meetings is to help bridge a perceptual gap between the residents and the architects. Its participants include visiting architects, local designated architects, local officials, students and community members.

The exhibition consists of 69 photographic panels from 61 projects by more than 65 architectural firms. Designs by Toyo Ito, Kazuhiro Ishii, Renzo Piano, Elias Torres, Kazuo Shinohara, Itsuko Hasegawa and Tadao Ando are on display.

The Japan Foundation is located at 131 Bloor Street West, Second Floor, in Toronto. Admission is free. For more information, please visit www.japanfoundationcanada.org/