Tokyo Tech News
The construction of Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza (Taki Plaza), a 4,900-square-meter student exchange hub in the heart of Ookayama Campus, has finished approximately four years after the concept was born. The completion of the building, made possible thanks to a donation by Tokyo Tech alumnus Hisao Taki (Class of 1962, Mechanical Engineering), was celebrated with an opening ceremony and a preview of the building on December 12.
The striking new facility welcomes campusgoers just inside the main gate of the campus. According to chief architect Kengo Kuma, the building's exterior is intended to resemble a hill, the topographical feature for which Ookayama Campus and the surroundings areas are known. The hill also represents a new platform for students. Final touches are being made to the interior, meaning students still have a short wait before the grand opening in April 2021.
The ceremony kicked off with greetings from Tokyo Tech President Kazuya Masu, donors Hisao and Hiroko Taki, and other stakeholders.
After this, the participants unveiled the much-anticipated ELEMENTS OF FUTURE, a large ceramic wall mural on the first floor of Taki Plaza. Designed by world-famous manga artist and film director Katsuhiro Otomo, the mural was inspired by exhibits from the Tokyo Tech Museum and consists of six Tokyo Tech-focused components — fire, water, minerals and metals, machinery, cities and architecture, and people. The center of the piece comes together in a hill, a symbol of Tokyo Tech's ability to rise above the chaos of the world and make progress in harmony with the concept of the entire building.
In Part Two of the event, Tokyo University of the Arts President Kazuki Sawa and Arts Meet Science project coordinator Masanori Taniguchi performed a concert. Sawa played the violin while Taniguchi worked the cello. After the duet, globally renowned cellist Yo-yo Ma made a surprise appearance with an online message and performance.
The celebrations continued with the facility's inaugural symposium, Taki Plaza beginnings: Creating the future through diversity. Joining the discussions moderated by Masu were Otomo, Kuma, Hisao Taki, and third-year Chemical Science and Engineering student Sotaro Watanabe, the leader of Taki Plaza Gardeners (TPGs), a student group in charge of planning and daily operations at the facility.
The first half of the symposium was a panel discussion, during which the panelists exchanged opinions on three broad topics:
"First and foremost, I want students to make good use of the building. I want to create a plan that best utilizes the characteristics of the building," Watanabe commented.
"In this chaotic world, cooperation and collaboration is increasingly important. Therefore, I want younger generations of students to possess a heightened cultural awareness and to respect each other's values when discussing issues," Taki stated regarding international exchange.
"Art is not born from scratch. Rather, it is a collage of what we have seen until now. It is clear that diversity contributes greatly to art," Otomo stated.
Kuma added, "It is easier to generate ideas when we have something concrete to grasp. That is why, whenever I hold a meeting, I place a model in the middle of the group.
"Creativity born from within diversity is precisely what we need," Taki commented.
The second half was reserved for a Q&A session between the speakers and Tokyo Tech students. The questions, collected online in advance by the TPG group, were read out to the speakers by four participating students of the Institute.
When asked what their favorite place in the facility was, many answered either the terrace or the tatami area on the second floor.
International students commented that although they could feel the atmosphere of diversity, they still sensed the presence of a "psychological wall" between people. The lack of physical walls in the facility would help break this psychological wall.
Others pointed out that non-verbal activities such as food or art would allow students to grow together as human beings.
The final part of the event was a preview of each floor of the facility led by students. During the entire process — from planning to design and construction — volunteer students participated in the creation of Taki Plaza. In addition to depicting a platform, the staircase-like shape of the facility also represents a tree. The four distinct parts of this tree are as follows.
The bottom floor represents the "roots" that absorb the nutrients and water required for life. It contains an event space and workshop area where peer interaction yields inspiration.
The B1 floor is the "trunk" of the tree that withstands all the elements. This is where students can acquire information on overseas universities, study abroad, and employment, and learn about the world and themselves. B1 also connects directly to the adjacent Tokyo Tech Library.
The 1st floor makes up the "branches" of the tree. It contains a cafe, public art area, and other features that deepen interactions and generates meaningful associations with the outside world.
The top floor, the "fruit" of the tree, contains a large makerspace where groups can interact, create, and innovate, forming the very essence of activities of Tokyo Tech.
With approximately 70 participants joining in the celebration, this was just the beginning for Taki Plaza. The entire Tokyo Tech community looks forward to witnessing the creations and leaders that emerge thanks to this new facility.
"Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza, erected in an ideal location on Ookayama Campus, will create unique encounters, experiences, and bonds for the current and future students of Tokyo Tech.
On behalf of the entire Tokyo Tech community, I would like to thank Hisao Taki for his generous donation, Kengo Kuma and Associates for executing the design of the facility, Kajima Corporation for the construction work, Katsuhiro Otomo for his artistic contribution, and all the other parties who made this project happen.
I look forward to seeing how Taki Plaza sparks the imagination and free creation of ideas of the students of Tokyo Tech."
NOTE: To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff, and members of the public, please refrain from entering the premises (passing, walking, etc.) for the time being. And changes to this policy will be announced on the COVID-19: President's message, Tokyo Tech policy, important information to all stakeholders web page.
Activities at Taki Plaza are supported by the Tokyo Tech Fund