(b Tokyo, 7 July 1918).
Japanese architect and writer. He graduated from the University of
Tokyo in 1942 and in 1946–7 he worked in the office of Junzo
Sakakura in Tokyo. After receiving a master’s degree from Harvard
University, Cambridge, MA (1953), he worked in the office of Marcel
Breuer in New York (1953–6). In 1956 he returned to Japan and opened
his own office in Tokyo. One of Ashihara’s principal concerns was
the use of logical structural systems to create flexible, integrated
space within buildings. He developed the use of split levels or
‘skip’ floors to combine spaces of various sizes, as in the Chuo
Koron building (1956), Tokyo, for which he was awarded the
Architectural Institute of Japan prize in 1960. The Sony building
(1966), Tokyo, was designed as a cubic spiral of skip floors,
creating organic spatial continuity throughout the building with
spaces that interrelate with each other and with their environment.
A similar concept was used for the Japanese pavilion at Expo ’67 in
Montreal, for which he received an award from the Ministry of
Education. The continuity and flow of space between interior and
exterior, and in the spaces between buildings, were also addressed,
for example in the Komazawa Olympic Gymnasium (1964), Tokyo, which
received a special award from the Architectural Institute of Japan.
His National Museum of Japanese History (1980), Sakura, also won a
prize, from the Japan Institute of Art. Ashihara received a PhD from
the University of Tokyo in 1961 and was appointed professor at
several universities, both in Japan and overseas. He was a
vice-president of the Architectural Institute of Japan (1976–8) and
president of the Japan Architects Association (1980–82).