TOTO Gallery Ma

Closes Feb. 26

TOTO Ltd., perhaps most well known for manufacturing high-tech electronic toilets, such as its trademarked “Washlet,” opened Gallery Ma in 1985 as a space dedicated to exhibitions on architecture. It has since attracted a number of Japan’s leading designers and architects as exhibition advisers, such as Tadao Ando, and received more than 760,000 visitors.

This month, the gallery celebrates a new name — TOTO Gallery Ma — and its 25th anniversary with a show titled “Global Ends: Towards the beginning.” Seven architects — Paulo David, Sean Godsell, Kerry Hill, Junya Ishigami, Tom Kundig, Smiljan Radic and RCR group — have been invited to exhibit their works under the theme of “a new beginning for architecture.”

What a building should be, or represent, has been hotly debated in this brand-fixated age where architects have become stars and everything seems possible, but nothing is certain. This exhibition continues the debate by questioning architectural norms. Each architect was given a two-tatami-mat-sized platform, a video player, a display area for images and an installation space for them to freely express their philosophy on architecture.

Ishigami Junya chose to build a garden with 6-mm flat steel column structures, blurring the boundaries of exterior and interior. Paulo David created a play-house-sized model of Casa das Mudas, an art facility on Madeira Island in Portugal, and is showing video footage of the actual building. David commented that the model is “almost an exercise in carving,” where an audience can fully understand the interior atmosphere of the building while still appreciating its true location through the video.

Designed to make people think about and question architecture, the exhibition not only educates viewers, but offers an entertaining presentation of the creative skills of innovative architects. Tom Kundig’s drawings and photos, for example, fold out as you turn a large wheel or when you move a weight in a pulley system. Visitors can lose track of time and space in this show, which impressively fits seven “buildings” inside a small two-story one — a creative architectural feat in itself.

TOTO Gallery Ma is open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Sun. and Mon.; free admission. For more information, visit www.toto.co.jp/galleryma or call 03-3402-1010

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