Located in Tokyo and completed in 1996 by Rafael Viñoly Architects, Tokyo International Forum offers a unique civic complex on a 6.7-acre site with an innovative feature. It accommodates a variety of global exchange and cultural events in a complex. It also has the world’s largest free-standing glass canopy and a Glass Hall as the most daring structures ever built in Japan.
It is fully accessible to the public and yet sheltered from the frenetic pace of its urban surroundings. This complex also accommodates dance, musical and theatrical performances, business meetings, conventions and trade shows, and receptions. It is also a prime venue for cultural exchange and global events. It sits near Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station, generating significant pedestrian traffic in the site area.
The aim of the design is to create a precinct fully accessible to the public, protected from the surroundings’ impacts. A landscaped urban plaza is enclosed by the granite perimeter wall, extending under four performing arts spaces suspended above and also aligning in diminishing volume along the site’s western edge.
Continuous views of the plaza below can be seen in the theater lobbies, serves as civic space for multiple public uses. The plaza filters into the Glass Hall along the eastern edge of the site. Glass Hall is a large glass enclosure with an awesome 228-meter-long that hovers above. Light reflects the surface of the roof at night and transforms the structure into a monolithic floating light source.
A public concourse is located under the plaza and it connects to the regional and local rail network. It also wraps around a central exhibition hall, becoming the Glass Hall’s main floor. The pedestrian rams and bridges connect the conference rooms to the theaters, giving total flexibility to accommodate a wide range of event types.
The Glass Hall has two intersecting glass and steel arcs that enclose the vast central lobby and unite the complex elements. It is an awesome structure composed of seven stories above ground and three below. The curtain wall of the hall is 60-meter in high, designed as transparently as possible to allow stunning visual connection from the plaza and theaters to the curved granite wall.
There is also a 10.5-meter by 5-meter Yurakucho Canopy shelters a staircase, forming a key entrance to the complex and leads to the Yurakucho underground station. It is the world’s largest free-standing glass structure ever. The construction of a standardized bezel and cam connection is the innovative feature of the design in this project, supporting the transfer of shear loads and in-plate forces through the beam connections and glass roof plate.
The application of fundamental structural principles is required by the design approach, especially to the design of a series of cantilevered glass beams. These beams are bolted to create composite beams and transferring the shear loads and cantilever moments through to a steel torsion support bar.
Tokyo International Forum Gallery
Photography: Rafael Viñoly Architects