Tokyo has designs on congress

by Edan Corkill

Next year Tokyo will host one of the largest events on the architectural calendar: the triennial congress of the International Union of Architects. If the most recent congress, which was held in 2008 in Turin, is any indication, the organizers of “UIA2011 Tokyo” (the 24th World Congress of Architecture) can expect over 10,000 architects and other professionals to flock to the Japanese capital for the event.

To prepare Tokyoites for the onslaught, UIA2011 Tokyo organizers have been holding a series of annual open houses at architectural landmarks throughout the city for the last two years. “open! architecture,” as the events are known, will be held from May 21 till June 13 this year, and will give curious observers the chance to peek inside several buildings that are usually closed to the public.

Highlights this year include the Turkish Embassy in Jingumae, which was built in 1977 by renowned Japanese modernist, Kenzo Tange. Another highlight is the private residence of Tachu Naito, the architectural engineer who designed Tokyo Tower.

All open house events are held for specific hours on specific dates, and bookings are essential. Two will include guidance in English: one is of a guest house built by Mitsubishi conglomerate founder, Yataro Iwasaki, in Kiyosumi Garden, Koto Ward, and the other is of Yarai Noh Theater, a faithful recreation of a Meiji Era theater in Shinjuku Ward. Those events will start at 9 a.m. on May 28 and 10:30 a.m. on June 12, respectively. Another English-language tour will take in several architectural gems in Meguro Ward.

For further details, visit open-a.org