Posts tagged with "Japan Society":

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The Japan Society bridges Olympic games past and future at Made in Tokyo

Fifty years of change can totally transform any city and nowhere is that more evident than Tokyo, a mega-metropolis that’s constantly redefining itself. Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020 at the Japan Society in Manhattan makes the comparison between where Tokyo has been and where it’s going stark, easy to understand, and perhaps, hopeful. With the 2020 Summer Olympics fast approaching, Made in Tokyo—curated by Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow-Wow with Japan Society gallery director Yukie Kamiya—presents the Tokyo of 1964 and 2020 side-by-side to examine how the city has evolved and where it could go in the future. Historical changes in Tokyo’s architecture are inextricably linked with its political, economic, and social fortunes and the exhibition uses the 1964-through-2020 timeline to tease out the way these factors have shaped the city. Tokyo is rife for densification and because of that, new typologies make the most use of vertical space. At an October 11th talk at the Japan Society, Kaijima and Tsukamoto pointed to a driving school on top of a grocery store as just one way the city fosters the combination of disparate ideas. Made in Tokyo spotlights the city’s versatility and how the past and forthcoming Olympic games have and will affect six public and private architectural categories: stadium, station, retail, capsule, office, and home. The Japan Society and Atelier Bow-Wow have assembled an impressive collection of materials drawn from public and private archives, as well as from over 30 architectural studios. That includes two central, stadium-shaped enclosures featuring materials from the 1964 and 2020 games assembled around each for easy wayfinding; a life-sized segment from a capsule hotel, helpful for providing scale to those who have never been to one; archival drawings; photographs and architectural models by Kenzo Tange and Kengo Kuma; video fly-throughs; and a virtual tour of exemplary Tokyo projects lead by Atelier Bow-Wow. “In the 1960s—15 years after the end of World War II, Japan grew with great productivity and enthusiasm,” said Atelier Bow-Wow in a press release, “various urban institutions were created and young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, there is an incentive for large capital and organization towards mass-redevelopment. Through this tremendous turnover of city spaces and transitions of urban institutions we will showcase the evolution of life in the city of Tokyo.” Made in Tokyo will run through January 26, 2020, and will be accompanied by a host of lectures, film screenings, discussions, and art performances.
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Get some exclusive insight into Atelier Bow-Wow’s New York exhibition

Continuing their influential body of work examining the city from fresh angles and novel frameworks, Atelier Bow-Wow’s Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto will cocurate Made In Tokyo: Architecture and Living 1964–2020 at New York’s Japan Society. The show, scheduled to open in October, will examine Tokyo in the period between the 1964 and the 2020 Olympics, both of which were hosted in the Japanese capital and marked shifts caused by enormous infrastructural investment. Made In Tokyo, a close examination of the flows of everyday life and urban institutions, will feature models, drawings, and photographs of a collection of architecture and art that developed around the city in this period of extraordinary change. AN executive editor Matt Shaw exchanged emails with the iconic duo as they prepare the exciting exhibition.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What can we expect from this show? How does it relate to your book projects, particularly Made in Tokyo, which shares a name with the exhibition?

Atelier Bow-Wow: What you can see from this exhibition is the Tokyo of the two Olympics, seen through the evolution of various urban institutions. Our book, Made in Tokyo (2001), showed the life of this unique city through the observation of “hybrid” metropolitan structures. By applying this lens to the urban institutions that were being created in 1964 and 2020, the years of the two Tokyo Olympics, we will showcase the change, or metabolism, of the life of Tokyo.

How did you sort through almost 60 years of architecture and development of the largest metropolis in the world? What were you looking for as you made your framework?

The urban architecture that was built between the last Tokyo Olympics and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics can be categorized in two ways: architecture that supports the everyday life of Tokyo (transit stations, city halls, offices, houses, etc.) and architecture that supports the nonroutine life (capsule hotels, stadiums, department stores, etc.). Comparing these two kinds of architecture and observing how the environments, conditions, and social expectations for each type has changed will reveal how life in Tokyo has transformed.

What are the major transitions you identify? What built works illustrate them?

Size. The size of the Olympics, the size of cities, the size of economic impact, the technical environment—namely, the internet—how families should live, the way of working, commercial services, demographics of cities, etc., have all changed drastically.

Were there surprises that you came across as you surveyed the city and its history? What assumptions about Tokyo might be upended?

We are the generation of the previous Tokyo Olympics and cannot hide how surprised we are at the tremendous turnover of city spaces from what we remember in our childhood memories. Since the government handed over the reins of urban creation to the private sector, the logic of capital and industry has entered into every corner of the city and started determining the shapes of life and urban spaces. Although it is widely said that the 70-year period of peace in Tokyo—without war or huge earthquakes—has contributed to cultivating a city that values quality over quantity, I think in reality it is livelihood that is servicing capital and industry.

From the outside, 1964–2020 in Japan seems to be a very positive and optimistic period of growth. Is that true?

Since World War II, we had grown in both population and economically until around 1990. Various urban institutions were created with great productivity and enthusiasm. Especially in the 1960s—15 years after the end of the war—young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, the institutions that were built in the 20th century are showing their age and need to be renovated. In high-value areas in central Tokyo, there is an incentive for large capital and organizations to move toward mass redevelopment that increases the total floor space, thus covering operating costs. On the other hand, buildings in the other areas are left to the tides of time and tend to be unoccupied and deteriorating. These buildings are often revitalized by young architects and activities rooted in their neighborhoods. In short, bipolarization is happening, and we cannot be positive about the situation.

Now we are moving to the idea of “revival” and localism of the countryside rather than Tokyo’s centralism. Tokyo has been established on the support of the rural areas, but the fact has become more apparent and Tokyo is getting situated as one of the cities in the network of lives.

You include several avant-garde artworks, including some performance pieces, that are critical of Japanese economic development and consumerism. How do those fit into your narrative? Why did you include them?

They show what “ambiences” are surrounding architecture in each era. Along with focusing on urban institutions, we would also like visitors to imagine the backgrounds and conditions that surround the institutions.

(These responses were translated from Japanese into English.)

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Building of the Day: the Japan Society

This is the twenty-sixth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! During an Archtober Building of the Day tour of the Japan Society, visitors learned how the building’s architecture echoes the organization’s mission to deepen the cultural dialogue between the US and Japan. Archtober guide Michael Chagnon, PhD, curator of exhibition interpretation at the Japan Society, delved into the history of the organization and its current location. Founded in 1907, the Japan Society shut down its operations during World War II and was revived by John D. Rockefeller III, an avid Asian art collector. When the organization outgrew the home it originally shared with the Asia Society, Rockefeller secured the land in Turtle Bay and commissioned Tokyo-based modernist architect Junzo Yoshimura to design the Japan Society a new home. In his design, Yoshimura, a student of Antonin Raymond (a Frank Lloyd Wright disciple), masterfully blends traditional Japanese residential language with the bold, almost Brutalist lines and reinforced concrete of American Modernism. Chagnon pointed out several elements on the building’s facade traditionally found in Japanese homes: the low-slung diagonal fence, typical of Kyoto’s Edo period; the elegantly rhythmic vertical storm window grates, or amado; and surare, horizontal screens, usually of bamboo, and here rendered in steel. These references continue in the Japan Society’s lobby, where the ceiling’s exposed concrete combines with delicate wood slats of Japanese cypress, known for releasing a lemon-scented aroma when heated. According to Chagnon, although Yoshimura intended for visitors to have a full sensorial experience upon entering the building, the New York City Fire Department demanded that the slats be coated in flame retardant. A bamboo pond at the end of the garden, once still and serene, now bubbles with the addition of a waterfall. A few other elements of Yoshimura’s original design have also changed, particularly after a renovation in the 1990’s by Beyer Blinder Belle. As the organization, which hosts everything from Noh theater performances to exhibitions on Japanese prints and anime and lectures on sake, continued to expand, its space needed to grow accordingly. Beyer Blinder Belle added two floors, which more than doubled the available gallery space. And while sacrifices have been made in the name of the organization, we can rest assured that the building, the first in New York City built by a Japanese modernist architect, will remain. In 2011, at the age of 40, it became the youngest landmark building by the State’s Landmark Preservation Committee. About the author: Camila Schaulsohn is the Communications Director and Editor-in-Chief of the AIA New York Newsletter.
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Fumihiko Maki says architects who know better should speak up in the public's interest

Octogenarian Fumihiko Maki shows no signs of slowing down, based on his presentation last night at the Japan Society in New York City. Going back as far as only the mid-1990s, the Pritzker Prize winner showed a handful of projects that, as moderator Toshiko Mori said, eschew a signature style yet are identifiably Maki buildings. From the beautiful Kaze-no-oka Crematorium (1997) in Nakatsu (which Maki reported a townsperson complimentarily said, "Now we can die in peace.") and the equally off the beaten path Shimane Museum of Ancient Izumo (2006) to international projects in New York, Toronto, and Patna, India, Maki showed a wide range of materials, forms, and conceptual reasoning that went into each, but mostly it comes down to the context. “Architecture must establish a rapport with the people, that’s more important than architectural critique,” professed Maki. Maki explained that his influences were a combination of fellow countryman Kenzo Tange and his professor at Harvard, Josep Luis Sert, of course with a dash of omnipresent Le Corbusier, who Maki noted “was always wearing bowties.” These connections to the Metabolists and CIAM helped launch Maki’s lifelong career as a theorist and commentator, most recently in his highly public opposition to Zaha Hadid’s design for the New National Stadium in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Maki defended his position saying, “An architect who knows better has a responsibility to point out to the public” faults of scale, cost, context and the limited time to develop the design. Also of timing, Mori and Maki discussed the imminent demise of the classic Hotel Okura Tokyo. The mid-century icon designed by Yoshiroo Taniguchi is slated for demolition in September to make way for a new hotel to service Olympic tourists. The pair hope that minimally the lobby could be relocated and preserved.
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Brilliant Bamboo

Morigami Jin's Reclining II

It’s hard enough to see all the gallery exhibitions devoted to architecture in any given New York City week, but if I also try to visit design shows, it takes every waking moment. (I missed the top floor of MoMA’s Home Delivery show, for god’s sake, even though I caught the prefabs on West 54th Street.) New Bamboo: Contemporary Japanese Masters at the Japan Society is a show I read about in the A/N diary and kept thinking: “I should run up and see this.” Well, it closes on Sunday, and I would have never gotten there if New York sculptor Stephen Talasnik had not reminded me that I had promised to look at his bamboo pieces. I ran up this morning, and the show is indeed full of the most extraordinary bamboo designs—from Talasnik’s Bunraku-inspired black basswood and bamboo sculptures, suspended over the central water fountain, to Kawashime Shigeo’s delicate constructions and Morigami Jin’s inwardly-folded Reclining II. For the young architects who think they are creating folded baroque shapes for the first time on CNC milling machines, note well: These objects are all hand made. There is so much more to see, but you need to get there before Sunday afternoon at 5:00! 

Stephen Talasnik's suspended fountain sculptures
 
Kawashime Shigeo’s Drawing to the Sky