Posts tagged with "Japan":

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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
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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.
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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.”
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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.
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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.]
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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/
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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.
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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.    
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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.
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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.
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Pictorial> Twenty-one of the best pavilions from Milan Expo 2015

Milano Expo 2015 is rolling along, with 145 countries and a host of international organizations, civil society organizations, and corporations displaying their food-centric traditions and the latest sustainable agriculture and food production techniques. AN reported on the Expo when it opened:

a handful of designs...stand out as attempts to rethink the way we build and how it relates to modern agriculture and sustainable food production for the next century. Most of the pavilions use sustainable materials and construction methods that utilize national building techniques. Inside, exhibitions—often interactive—showcase biodiversity, culture, and food traditions of each nation.

Beyond the focus on food and agriculture, there is also a wealth of eye-catching architecture at the Milan Expo as well. Here is a collection of some of our favorite pavilions from this year's rendition. And be sure to check out our coverage of the Expo here.
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Yoko Ono breaks ground on public art project for Chicago’s South Side

The Chicago Park District starts work today on a new project by Yoko Ono. Her first permanent public art installation in the Americas will be a meditation on world peace, harmony with nature, and Japanese-American relations dubbed SKY LANDING, which is slated for a parcel of Jackson Park once home to the historic Phoenix Pavilion. Instead of a groundbreaking, construction began Friday with a “ground healing” ceremony on Wooded Island. Ono's installation, set to open in June 2016, will include a sculpture and landscape design meant to evoke a sense of harmony with nature. The details of the project are still largely undefined. “I recall being immediately connected to the powerful site and feeling the tension between the sky and the ground,” Ono said in a press statement. “I wanted the Sky to land here, to cool it, and make it well again.” Following the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Japan Construction Company shipped several prefabricated, traditional Japanese structures to Chicago's South Side, establishing the Ho-o-den (Phoenix Pavilion). It remained on Wooded Island until fire destroyed the Phoenix Pavilion in 1946. Now home to Osaka Garden, the site is part of a public-private overhaul of Jackson and Washington Parks under the nonprofit banner Project 120 Chicago. Led by the Chicago Park District and businesspeople including Robert Karr, Jr., a lawyer and the executive vice president of the Japan America Society of Chicago, Project 120 Chicago was convened to “revitalize” Frederick Law Olmsted's South Side parks, which have suffered from years of deferred maintenance. In 2012 the group's efforts began with an initiative to plant hundreds of cherry blossom trees. They then hired architect Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY to look into building a new Phoenix Pavilion. Preservation landscape architect and planner Patricia O’Donnell and her firm Heritage Landscapes were hired to lead larger preservation efforts in the parks.