The structural engineer and leading figure of the contemporary Japanese architectural scene, Masahiro Ikeda (Shizuoka, 1964) began his career in the structural design office of Toshihiko Kimura and Mutsuro Sasaki, where he was assigned to the Sendai Media Library (1995-2000), designed by Toyo Ito. In 1994, he founded the Masahiro Ikeda Architecture Studio/MIAS, then, in 2004 the firm Masahiro Ikeda Co., Ltd, and created the Masahiro Ikeda School of Architecture in 2010. He bases his practice on close collaboration with architects (Masaki Endoh, Kei’ichie Irie, Life and Shelter Associates, Toyo Ito, SANAA, Tezuka Architects) by intervening with them at the earliest stages of a project’s conception. His studies and calculations for complex structures are not provided to the architects after the fact, as is the common practice in his field. Ikeda’s approach aims to free architectural form from technical constraints by “integrating” architectural creation and feasibility. However, he goes beyond the idea of mere collaboration to achieve “integration.” More than a “simple assemblage of diverse things, he invisibly unifies,” ensuring a “horizontal and dynamic” interaction between the many different elements and competencies, which Ikeda materializes in a diagram, the Imaginary Structure. Thus, the project is the result of the cumulative effect of each thing dynamically acting upon the others on multiple occasions, to converge instantaneously; a moment Ikeda calls the “sublimation.” Recognized on numerous occasions (the AIJ, JIA, International Architecture Awards 2009, etc.), his projects have been the subject of several publications and exhibitions (ArchiLab 2006 Japan in Orleans).
Initially in his firm, Irie Architects and Associates (1980), then with Power Unit Studio (1987), the architect Kei'ichi Irie (Tokyo, 1950) focuses his thinking on the urban environment. His advocacy for architecture that counteracts the banality of suburbs is evident in his numerous projects for houses, apartment complexes (#520 and #701, 2004), offices (Point Perry, New York, 2011) and museums (Ishiuchi Dam Museum, 1993). His constructions are characterized by their great formal purity and by the use of new technologies and new materials. In his projects, from the undulating façade of the Bean House (Tokyo, 1992) to the Corbusian reminiscences of the K House (Nagano, 2009), the interlocking and staggered volumes, the translucent skins, the oriented openings, the gardens and the thinness of walls, all work to insulate the individual in a very measured way. Bearing the initial of the respective owners’ family name, the T House (1999), the N House (1999), the Y House (2003) and the K House (2007) take advantage of the environment by means of the cinematographic frames the architect composes in space, using the same technique he employs in his public buildings. His work is often recognized (Yosioka Prize for the W House, 1997; Architecture of the Year prize for the Isiuchi Dam Museum, 1994) and shown in exhibitions in Japan, Europe, Australia and the United States (Removable Reality, Tokyo, 1992; Tokyo Continuum, Venice Biennale, 1996; The Mirage City: Another Utopia, Tokyo, 1997; House of Tomorrow, Melbourne, 2003; GA HOUSE Project 2010, Tokyo, 2010).