Since his first visit
to Bangkok ten years ago, the first image of each of Toyo
Ito's lecture has been of the people living on the
water's edge along the canal of Bangkok. As a distinctive
place where human dwell successfully and naturally with
the natural environment, Bangkok confirmed his notion of
human has the primitive body which is a part of nature,
that needs water, light and air. This becomes the
substantial concept in his works up until now.
last decade of the 20th century, on one hand, Bangkok,
similar to Toyo Ito's image, is still full of natural
environment in the way of living naturally with nature.
On the other hand, Bangkok is not different from other
metropolises, which are full of problems from the fruits
of new technology. Whereas the air of Bangkok is
saturated with water, unfortunately it is also
intoxicated with pollution from cars and factories.
The destruction of natural resources, as well as traffic
and garbage problems, are the result from people living
together in this unlimited city.
The critical urban environment seems to be to the most
challenging problem for Thai architects.
Especially with the high economic growth of last decade,
the architecture business has become more revitalized and
Bangkok became more and more modernized resulting from an
advanced media technology and computer innovation which
make the situation of overwhelming information spread out
to every corner of the world.
Inevitably, life and architecture were changed by the new
information at a very accelerated rate. Not only the
number of buildings in Bangkok is tremendously increasing
everyday, the number of architects in Thailand is growing
Because of this, the architectural academic situation
seems to be more and more active than ever.
1996, Toyo Ito used Bangkok as a table of operation for
his series of events with young Thai architects and
Probably the extreme juxtaposition of nature and
technology in present Bangkok is the best example for an
The question of the new solutions for the next century,
" Tomorrow Where Shall We Live? ", was the main
theme of the series of events.
As the starting point of the events, the first lecture of
Toyo Ito in Bangkok, " Architecture in the
Electronic Age ", in January, was an introduction to
the concept of living with the new technology, especially
in the media or electronic environment. The role of
architecture as an artificial or the second nature to
integrate the relationship between man and nature was
elaborated upon in the lecture.
In the following May, the open competition entitled
" Tomorrow Where Shall We Live? " asked to
reinvestigate the way of living in Bangkok as in Toyo Ito's
Message for the 21st century : " As we are
approaching the 21ts century, let us employ a
global view point , and reconsider the mutual
relationship between nature and technology.
How will our living environment be?" , called for
the innovative solutions from young blood of Thailand.
6 student projects and 6 young architect projects were
selected to be in Tomorrow Where Shall We Live
Workshop to develop their concept to installation.
Through the process of workshop during 6 months with the
cooperation of Toyo Ito and Bangkok organizers via the
advanced communication technology between the two cities,
every participant experienced one of the most challenging
endeavors in his life.
Even some proposals are almost impossible to create
realistically, with limited time and budget, finally,
every idea was built to physical exhibition by the end of
last November at Chulalongkorn University.
Almost every corner of faculty of Architecture buildings
was invaded and transformed to be the model of tomorrow.
efforts to answer the question of Toyo Ito, Tomorrow
Where Shall We Live?, seem to focus especially on the
media and communication technology according to his
lecture and message.
However, the most interesting point in this event is how
to formulate the message of the future with the specific
context: Bangkok, the opposition of nature and technology.
From the imagination of participants to a time they have
never reached, an urban approach is used in ' Blowing in
the Winds ', " Penthouse SALA in the Forest City
" and " Express Way Module House ". They
imagine Bangkok urban space in the future as a product of
the present development such as left over space between
buildings, under express way structure or the roofs top
of high rise buildings.
The solutions result from using media as an additive
dimension compensating the loss of pleasant space.
Particularly in ' Blowing in the Winds ', the flow of
winds and media is an important characteristic to
generate living space according to their similar nature.
At the same time, Experiment in Ripple space ",
" Future Resident System ", " Share
Time ", " Envelope "and "
Virtuosoic Evolution " predict the new social
conditions and use architecture as a response to the new
For example, the problem of various individuality would
be solved by the ' compromise situation ' of 'Ripple
Space', prefabricate and flexible resident system with
fabric enclosure would be the solution for the time-strict
" Exposed Living " and " Naked House
" focus on the loss of tangible dimension of human
by extreme use of media and computer technology.
The answer to the problem is the exaggeration of exposed
connection of humans to nature balancing humans to media.
The last group seems to answer the question of tomorrow
by more abstract installations with the idea from
" Wel Come Home " expresses the journey of our
life through time that finally end up with death, use the
space of labyrinth as an analogy of the journey.
" Untitled 1996 " which is the full multi-media
installation, approaches living space as the mass of
energy of four basic elements combining to be emptiness.
While ' light ' in architecture space represents
enlightenment, the infinite for the future.
all of the installations propose to visualize their ideal
space form the imagination.
They produce direct experiences to the audiences through
the model space and inadvertently architecture form
itself seems to be less important.
As the nature of invisible media, architecture with
minimal form but maximum effect would be the answer for
Moreover, it comes close to the idea of 'BA' in Japanese
architecture of Toyo Ito.
Toyo Ito was not only the theme producer and judge of
competition, he also participated in the events with his
installation themed " Tarzans in the Forest of Media
The idea of ' media cladding ' which is light and
flexible and protects us and controls the profuse flood
of information was represented in the exhibition by model
of the interior space of his project, Sendai Mediatheque.
If Tarzan who lives and adapts himself successfully with
natural environment of the forest, feels and senses the
being of nature; water, light and winds, then the 21th
Century Tarzans who live in the media environment should
allow to feel the electronic flow as well as the natural
flow in the media suit.
though the series of events are only little points among
the global movement, they were the big influence and
encouragement for students and young architects of
They did not only rethink about their environment but
also experienced the transforming process of imagination
to tectonic built form which is the most challenging
problem for being architect.
Especially for a young architect, to learn how to build,
to see the dream come true, even in very small scale are
the big influence to his life. As a result, although the
installations are not able to compare to the professional
or the international level, the high energy and intention
of the young were overwhelming all over the exhibition.
Hopefully, at least for the participants, the experience
from the cultural exchange workshop would be the starting
point to create a compatible environment in their own
For Toyo Ito, to see and perceive Bangkok in these
current faces would not be only the validity to his idea
of integrated living with both natural and electronic
environments, but would be another inspiration for his
architecture in the future.
Recently, the additive images in his lecture
become people in watery space along the canal of Bangkok
with a cellular phone.
"Tomorrow Where Shall We
Live?" - a+u,