Art Tower Mito (ATM), symbolized by the 100-meter-tall metal tower that stands in its plaza, is a comprehensive cultural facility divided into three sections: a concert hall, a theater, and a gallery for contemporary art in Mito, Ibaraki, Japan. Designed by Japanese architect, urban designer, and theorist Arata Isozaki, it opened in 1990 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mito’s designation as an official city, the ATM complex has served as the venue for a wide variety of planned events, including musical concerts, dramatic productions, and art exhibitions featuring both Japanese and foreign artists.
Art Tower Mito is a comprehensive cultural facility divided into three sections: a concert hall, a theater, and a gallery for contemporary art
The Art Tower is an interesting sightseeing site thanks to the little observatory arranged at its third level. Located 86,4 meters high, it can accommodate 19 visitors at the same time. The observation deck is accessible by a glass-walled elevator offering a view of the details of the tower’s internal structure. In the observatory, a 360° view of the city and the surroundings was arranged through randomly placed portholes of various sizes, creating the strange sensation of being in a plane or in a departing spaceship.
The material (titanium) chosen for the façade of this tower captures the architect’s vision to ‘choose high-quality materials to build architecture that last’. Titanium is known as a maintenance-free material for its high resistance to corrosion and weathering. It is 60% lighter in weight than steel and is superior to other metals in strength and workability. Despite such superior properties, the usage of titanium is limited in architecture for its high material cost. This project pioneered the use of titanium on a large scale within Japan: consequently, it was also Kikukawa’s first attempt to implement titanium panels on such a large scale. Regardless of these conditions, Kikukawa was able to provide high-quality titanium panels by collaborating closely with the metal sheet provider and repeated experimentations.
Photography: Jun Tazawa courtesy of the Art Tower Mito, Korall, Kikukawa