Posts tagged with "Japan":

Placeholder Alt Text

AN Exclusive: Airbnb and Go Hasegawa imagine the future of the sharing economy and rural communities

  Airbnb has already radically altered how we travel and interact with the places that we visit. “Living” somewhere for a night has become a new model for belonging and interacting with a place, but it is not as simple as visiting somewhere and crashing on a couch. The new normal has also produced new disruptive economies that have affected rents, the design of our homes, and the identities of entire neighborhoods. This new model of economic and physical occupation of residential space is rooted in libertarian notions of the free market, where less regulation and peer-to-peer connection subverts traditional markets and opens up cheaper and more sophisticated ways of living and visiting. However, Airbnb is not stopping there. AN sat down with Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Joe Gebbia to discuss the future of housing and community, specifically their latest collaboration with Japanese architect Go Hasegawa as part of the exhibition House Vision 2016. Ten companies, including Panasonic, Toyota, and Muji were invited by renown designer Kenya Hara to participate in the exhibition opening in Tokyo this August under the theme “CO-DIVIDUAL Split but Connected, Separate but Gathered.” The curators view the home as the nexus of “energy, telecom, transportation, the possibility of aging society, the relations of city and local, the challenge of protection for village forests and rice terraces” The exhibition will feature 13 houses on display. Airbnb’s project with Hasegawa, Sugi No Ie (Yoshino Cedar House), started with a simple question, according to Gebbia, “How can a house be designed to be shared and to facilitate the relationship between the host and the visitor?” Hasegawa responded with an analysis of three trends in Japan. First, an aging population and intense urbanization is causing rural villages to shrink. Housing must be subsidized, but the population decrease is making that difficult. Secondly, in rural villages, community centers are the public gathering space for the town, and most members of the community use them. It is not a place for at-risk youth or for workshops, but the centers are literally the center of the community. The third important factor for Hasegawa is the ways in which Western visitors have the ability to affect the local economy. For small communities, the large nightly rents can have a huge impact, while the presence of tourists provides a ripple effect in the economy. For a small village such as Yoshino, in the Nara region near Osaka, the local economy has shrunk so much that 200 people have left and there are 750 empty homes. The solution: Hasegawa is building a hybrid community center-apartment on land donated by the town. It will be completed for the August exhibition. The aim is to attract visitors, but the center and Airbnb-rentable space would be owned by the community so that the benefits could be distributed as they see fit, hopefully recharging the local economy. The first floor serves as a living room and community center, where “the community is the host,” according to Gebbia. It could be considered a state-owned sharing economy, or at least a town-owned sharing economy. According to Gebbia, “the local experience benefits the visitors, while the community can feel pride in that it has to offer.” For Yoshino, this includes a small-batch sake factory, cedar production, a chopstick factory, and a busting leafer scene in the fall. The hope is for a second economy to spring up around the visitors, with locally-led tours and sake tastings, and other experiences. The house will be designed out of 28 types of wood from around the region, and the house’s plan and section are based on the ancient Japanese concept of engawa, a ledge that extends beyond the border of the house to invite in visitors to engage with the architecture. This public extension of the floor plane blurs the boundary between inside and out, as well as public and private. Airbnb plans to have the house available as a working prototype, and will be looking into this as a possible financial model for the future. Depending on the impact a project like this can have, but the ways in which these emergent technologies like Uber and Aribnb interact with the city and the existing markets is going to be an important issue for cities in the 21st century. Harnessing their power, rather than succumbing to it will be a challenge, and perhaps one that architects and planners can contribute in significant ways. House Vision 2016 Tokyo Exhibition
 July 30 ­- August 28, 2016 Rinkai Fukuroshin, J­area, 2­1 A omi, Koto, Tokyo
Placeholder Alt Text

Kengo Kuma uses anti-earthquake carbon fiber design on Japanese building

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has given an office in Nomi, Japan, a carbon fiber curtain that spans outwards from the roof edge in an undulating, wave-like fashion. The building, known as "fa-bo," is home to the company Komatsu Seiren who uses it as a "fabric laboratory" to manufacture, research, and exhibit new clothing materials.  Kuma's renovation isn't just for aesthetics: in a first, the carbon fiber makes the building more earthquake resistant. According to Kuma's website, the fiber rods are supposedly ten times stronger than iron. In a video (see below) Kuma explains how carbon fiber was an obvious choice as it facilitated "transparent quake resistance." https://youtu.be/SIorJpr784o The feature also draws on a local technique of braiding ropes which makes it possible to "add further flexibility to the carbon fiber," something Kuma described as a "fascinating" development. "I find it very interesting that the answers were right there. Bringing together technologies that are both old and new and then mixing them together...is outstanding" he said. Although a helpful solution to counter seismic activity, fixing the rods to the building forced Kuma and his team to meticulously focus on every detail in the joinery. Kuma also believes that the carbon fiber rods have the potential to shape 21st century architecture. "We believe there is something new in this construction material," he said. "As far as materials are concerned, fibers are very strong and gentle to people....In fact, it has the potential for creating a major revolution in the world of construction," he went on to say. The rods are also employed inside the building too, allowing light to filter into spaces. On the roof, "experimental greening" uses porous ceramic panels (called Greenbiz) that are created as a byproduct of the fiber manufacturing process.  
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> MoMA presents A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond

A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd Street, New York From March 13–July 31, 2016 Boasting models, drawings, and images of over 40 architectural designs, A Japanese Constellation seeks to display the prominence and impact of Pritzker Prize winners Toyo Ito and SANAA and the effect they have had on Japanese design since the 1990s. This is reflected through film and imagery projected onto translucent curtains used to articulate an intersectional spatial arrangement within the exhibition. The feature reflects how Ito’s influence permeates through the works of contemporary Japanese designers such as Sou Fujimoto, Akihisa Hirata, Junya Ishigami, Ryue Nishizawa, and Kazuyo Sejima. Many of the featured architects have played a part in the changing face of Japan’s architecture since the 2011 earthquake. The exhibition highlights 44 designs, from small houses to museums, which display the innovation and cross-pollination evident in contemporary architecture. moma_soufujimoto_housena
Placeholder Alt Text

Harvesting the Sun: Japan building world's largest floating solar farm

March 11 marks the five-year anniversary at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. After the disaster, officials have been on the hunt for alternative energy solutions. Now, Japanese electronics firm Kyocera has begun construction on what will be the world's largest floating solar farm, just outside Tokyo. The Yamakura dam power plant will use more than 50,000 solar photovoltaic panels covering nearly 2 million square feet. Japan is a country short on space, so energy solutions that aren't built on land are a welcome sight to many. As the Guardian recently reported, the country is increasingly dependant on imported fossil fuels, to the detriment of its carbon footprint goals. The solar array is being constructed upon a reservoir with hopes of providing enough energy for roughly 5,000 homes when finished in 2018. Despite its size, the plant is comparatively small to land-based solar farms. Expected to produce 13.7MW when complete, this more than 28 times smaller than the 392 Ivanpah Solar Power Facility in San Bernardino, CA. According to Kyocera TLC Solar, "the project will generate an estimated 16,170 megawatt hours (MWh) per year — enough electricity to power approximately 4,970 typical households — while offsetting about 8,170 tons of CO2 emissions annually. This is equal to 19,000 barrels of oil consumed." "With the decrease in tracts of land suitable for utility-scale solar power plants in Japan due to the rapid implementation of solar power, Kyocera TCL Solar has been developing floating solar power plants since 2014, which utilize Japan’s abundant water surfaces of reservoirs for agricultural and flood-control purposes," the firm added.
Placeholder Alt Text

Kengo Kuma claims commission for Tokyo Olympic Stadium as Hadid fumes

At last, design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium has finally been decided with Kengo Kuma's winning commission. The Japanese firm fought off a plan by Toyo Ito to claim the prize. Zaha Hadid, however, was less than complimentary of the decision. The 80,000 capacity stadium will cost $1.2 billion, almost half the cost of Hadid's proposal and will crucially be constructed by Taisei Corp, a major firm in Japan. That's not to say that decision isn't still mired in controversy. Nicknamed the "hamburger," several architects, according to the Financial Times, claim it bears “remarkable similarities” to a an earlier design that was scrapped in July. Utilizing a wood and steel roof, Kuma's design creates a green space within the city of Tokyo with the facade’s horizontal lines seemingly referencing the 1,300-year-old Gojunoto wooden pagoda at Horyuji Temple. Meanwhile the environment is completed via the implementation of Jingu Shrine trees and other foliage found within the vicinity of the stadium. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of the design, saying "I think this is a wonderful plan that meets criteria such as basic principles, construction period and cost," when he announced the winning practice. Hadid, though, has other ideas. “Sadly the Japanese authorities, with the support of some of those from our own profession in Japan, have colluded to close the doors on the project to the world,” Zaha Hadid Architect's said in statement. "This shocking treatment of an international design and engineering team ... was not about design or budget." "In fact much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today," she continued. Completion is set to be around November 2019, though there are doubts that it will be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup that Japan is hosting that year. This was initially a requirement that was demanded by the Japan Sports Council and one that Hadid says her firm would have been able to meet. “Work would already be under way building the stadium if the original design team had simply been able to develop this original design, avoiding the increased costs of an 18-month delay and risk that it may not be ready in time for the 2020 Games.” Meanwhile, president of Tokyo 2020, Yoshiro Mori, has said, “The stadium incorporates the views of experts in the construction field and we are looking forward very much to using the new stadium as the centrepiece of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Placeholder Alt Text

After Zaha Hadid bows out, two new proposals unveiled for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium

After controversy and budget overruns surrounding Zaha Hadid's curvy design for Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, the starchitect bowed out of the running. But Tokyo still needs a stadium, and two just-released proposals show a decidedly more traditional design. The Japan Sports Council announced that the winner will be selected before the year is up, however, upon publishing details of the proposals, they have chosen to keep the submissions anonymous. That said, Nikkan Sports speculates that architects Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma are the two practices vying for the lucrative commission. Supposing this claim is true, one can quickly deduce that proposal "A" belongs to Kengo Uma and that proposal "B" is Toyo' based on both firms' previous projects and inherent style. An in-depth insight into both the plans can be found on the council's website (it's all in Japanese) and it's clear that both submissions clearly outline costs and construction details—a hard lesson learned after Hadid's proposal, which was vetoed by the council, after it spiralled up to $2 billion. Now, both submissions cost around half of Hadid's proposal, ringing in at $1.2 billion. Utilizing a wood and steel roof, Proposal A creates a green space within the city of Tokyo with the facade's horizontal lines seemingly referencing the 1,300-year-old Gojunoto wooden pagoda at Horyuji Temple. Meanwhile the environment is completed via the implementation of Jingu Shrine trees and other foliage found within the vicinity of the stadium. Meanwhile, Proposal B incorporates a much more modern aesthetic, especially in its roof design. The roof design, however, as artful as it may be, is primarily functional. The curvature encapsulates sound generated from spectators, creating a more fervent atmosphere while keeping the neighbors happy. Supporting the roof will be 72 pillars that wrap around the stadium. What defines Proposal B is its unique and feathery undulating roof, but also the solid wood pillars that will be equally spaced around the stadium. The 72 weight-bearing pillars will serve a symbolic purpose in that they reference Japan’s tradition of building pillars to honor festivities. The number of pillars is also special, representing the 72 micro-seasons of Japan, a feature of Japan's culture that is exhibited further with a 2788.71 foot track that informs visitors of each micro-season with each pillar.
Placeholder Alt Text

Hadid concedes her $2 billion Japan National Stadium bid is dead

Despite months of refusing to admit the case, Zaha Hadid has finally conceded that her bid for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium is dead in the water. After Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country was scrapping Hadid's plans in June earlier this year, the British-Iraqi architect has only now come out and said that the plans are indeed finished and that the project will go no further. Since day one the project was steeped in controversy amid the backlash from critics denouncing the stadium for displacing residents of public housing while also burning a deep hole in Japanese pocketbooks. Hadid's proposal would have cost a hefty $2 billion. Another reason the project failed was due to the fact that Hadid's company was also unsuccessful in finding a construction company. The Tokyo 2020 authority has made sure this issue will not rise again as conditions now stipulate that a construction firm must be in place for projects submitted in the new competition for the design. In a statement, a spokesman on behalf of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) said: “It is disappointing that the two years of work and investment in the existing design for a new national stadium for Japan cannot be further developed to meet the new brief through the new design competition.” In 2012, Hadid's design topped 45 other submissions to claim the prize. She most recently released a 20 minute video pitch arguing its financial viability. https://youtu.be/KWQGwz3vdb4 [h/t The Guardian.]
Placeholder Alt Text

Watch giant sushi float down a Japanese river in Osaka

The installation known as Rolling Sushi and part of the Osaka Canvas Project arts festival involves five oversized pieces of sushi floating down a local waterway as if it were the conveyor belt at a local restaurant. All aboard the sushi train? https://youtu.be/H7n7JnsOEc4 In fact, despite being water-based, that's what it’s being dubbed. It is of course, “the world’s first giant floating sushi train,” according to Rocket News 24. The installation went on last week, as they floated the idea to Osaka's residents. Osaka, incidentally, is Japan's supposed culinary hub, so it's unlikely the idea will go under the radar. The official runs are on the 4th, 5th, and 17th October. https://instagram.com/p/7Z6fUmwggz/
Placeholder Alt Text

French architect Dominique Perrault wins 2015 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award

The Japan Art Association has announced that French architect Dominique Perrault, most famous for the National Library of France in Paris, has won the 2015 Praemium Imperiale International Arts Award in the architecture category. Perrault is one of five laureates, joining Tadanori Yokoo for painting, Wolfgang Laib for sculpture, Mitsuko Uchida for music, and Sylvie Guillem for theater / film. At a ceremony in Tokyo on October 21, 2015, Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, will present each Praemium Imperiale winner with a specially designed gold medal and a testimonial letter. The award also brings with it roughly $122,000 (15 million yen). The 62-year-0ld architect “treads his own bold path,” describes The Guardian, with designs that “can be wildly imaginative … [or] … abstractly minimal.” Success is nothing new for Perrault who has already won the the Silver medal for town planning in 1992 and the Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1996. In 2010 he was also awarded the gold medal by the French Academy of Architecture for all his work. Previous winners include architects Steven Holl in 2014 and David Chipperfield in 2013.
Placeholder Alt Text

This skinny house in Tokyo is squeezed onto a lot only eight feet wide

Limited space was no issue for Japanese architecture firm YUAA Architects in designing this slender home in Tokyo. Their so-called 1.8M House, true to its pint-sized name, stands on a mere eight-foot-wide and 36-foot-deep plot, sandwiched between squat neighborhood buildings and jutting up past their rooflines like a lanky sibling. With large windows and openings allowing for both natural light and ventilation, and furnishings with fine materials and textures that compliment the narrow-set environment, it is both cozy and accommodating for a single-family home. Multiple levels of overlapping floors mesh easily with one another to create an atmosphere of interior openness. In addition to creating a balance between the different levels and establishing a common thread throughout the interior, shelves are perfect installations for storage. Scaffolding boards and marble dust paintings have the similar effect of developing the streamlined interior without detracting from the residence. Columns and beams that might otherwise minimize interior space are installed throughout the home so as to maximize the perception of available space. YUAA Architects used a steel-frame and EZ stake system to support the irregular shape of the lot and the minimal space available. The exterior of the 1.8 M House was also built with materials appropriate for a non-scaffold construction system, while the interior displays exposed piping that gives it a distinct industrial touch. Despite the structural limitations of the narrow space, the 1.8 M House is a perfectly capable substitution for a wider modern residence. With a simple formula and structure that fits well into its surroundings, the YUAA Architects 1.8 M House is an example of an ideal skinny house that provides a solution to the problem of limited space.    
Placeholder Alt Text

BREAKING> Days after announcing its approval, Japanese government decides to drop Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Stadium

Just days after giving the go-ahead on Zaha Hadid’s hotly contested designs for the Tokyo Stadium, the Japanese government has retracted its stance. With spiraling costs at the heart of contentions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the project would now “start over from zero.” Abe has instructed the sports and Olympics ministers to select a new stadium design immediately, but the Prime Minister insisted that no further decision would be greenlighted without “listening to the voices of the people and the athletes.” At the time the government announced its approval, the budget had bloated to $2 billion, with the overly large, "bike helmet" design being publicly slammed by eminent architects including Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki. Public backlash and political battles ensued over who would foot the bill. However, Zaha Hadid Architects maintains it was “not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan Sports Council.” Instead, the “real challenge” was “agreeing on an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.” Abe made the decision to drop Hadid’s designs after a meeting with the chair of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori. Slated as the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics, the already much-delayed stadium won’t be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as was originally planned. Sports minister Hakubun Shimomura said that a new design will be selected within the next six months.
Placeholder Alt Text

Tokyo government approves Zaha Hadid's designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium while controversy continues

Despite courting backlash for being imposingly large and costly, Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium have been green-lighted by the Tokyo government. Officials maintain that further modifications at this stage of proceedings would only incur further expenses from construction delays. In July last year, Hadid acquiesced to criticism against her original stadium, announcing new designs with economizing modifications promising to be more “efficient, user-focused, adaptable and sustainable.” A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects told Dezeen that the structure would sport “a lightweight, tensile fabric” to “reduce the weight and materials of the roof to give it greater flexibility as an indoor and outdoor venue.” However, Hadid’s firm declined to disclose whether the size of the venue would also be scaled back. The two massive arches forming the backbone of the roof, which critics have billed an unneeded frill, will prevail. To slash construction costs from the initial $3 billion, officials have proposed delaying building a retracting roof until after the Olympics and making 15,000 of the stadium’s 80,000 seats temporary. “We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more contemporary grandstands,” said John Coates, Vice President of the International OIympics Committee. “It may be that there are new venues and existing venues at the moment that are dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two.” Nevertheless, the price tag continues to hover at $2 billion due in part to the fact that use of Hadid’s designs requires the demolition of the existing 1964 stadium designed by architect Mitsuo Katayama. Pritzker laureates such as Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have been among Hadid’s most vocal critics, themselves one of eleven finalists in the 2008 competition. In an interview with Dezeen at the groundbreaking for her 1000 Museum Tower in Miami last year, the Iraqi-British architect posited: “They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium.” However, soaring construction costs have been reported across the board, with the committee reviewing designs for ten Olympic products after bids for one facility came in at 15 times the estimated cost. Although Hadid’s stadium has received the go-ahead, city and central government continue to hotly debate how to split the $2 billion bill.