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Meiso No Mori Municipal Funeral Hall

Toyo Ito & Associates

Meiso No Mori Municipal Funeral Hall
By Editorial Staff -

Going beyond Modernism, creating “living” spaces that impart emotions, eschewing the soulless box-like buildings of modern-day consumerism. This, for Toyo Ito, is what “New ‘Real’ in architecture” is all about. This was also the title of his itinerant exhibition shown at the Hayama Museum of Modern Art, in 2007, a show that looked closely at how a creative idea turns into a realised project. Parts of buildings in real-life scale demonstrated constructive methods, while large-scale models looked at how new spatial elements can be used.
Ito’s work is underpinned by two principles: fluid spaces that give a tangible sense of dynamic force, and spaces that recall organic forms like trees and caves.
The Kakamigahara Crematorium is an experimental building. Forms that tend to restore balance have been discarded in favour of forms that convey energy flows. Ito transforms Modernism’s “less is more” into more natural spaces.
The project is located in Gifu, a mountainous region north of Tokyo. Called “the forest of meditation” (Meiso no Mori), it was developed with Mutsuro Sasaki, the engineer who applies non-linear maths to structural engineering. (“Flux Structure” published by Toto in 2005 and recently by the Architectural Academy of London, is a good introduction to his approach.) Sasaki talks of optimising forces through a method called sensitivity analysis that assesses the solution providing the least stress and deformation during function.
Close collaboration between architect and engineering generates structural and spatial innovation. Creative ideas can be turned into reality using complex geometries and advanced software. Alongside his sensitivity analysis, Sasaki introduces the concept of “extended evolutionary structural optimisation”. By applying the principles of evolution and “self-organisation” of living organisms to an engineering problem, rational computer-generated structural forms can be generated.
The method was first...

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