Posts tagged with "Japan":

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Junya Ishigami's use of unpaid interns draws criticism after Serpentine selection

Junya Ishigami, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, has come under fire after an Architect’s Journal report brought the Tokyo-based Junya Ishigami + Associates’ internship policy to light. A student who reached out to the firm to apply for an internship reportedly told the Journal that they would be expected to work six days a week, from 11 AM to midnight, for free and would have to supply their own computer and accompanying software. The internship would last for 8 to 12 weeks, “or longer,” according to emails reviewed by the Journal. Prospective interns would also be on their own in relocating to Japan and in acquiring a visa. The student ultimately decided not to apply, citing the extreme workload and high price of living in Tokyo. Unpaid internship culture is still pervasive in Japan, but a number of British organizations have come out against the practice, including the Serpentine Gallery. A Serpentine spokesperson told the Journal that they weren’t aware of Ishigami + Associates’ use of unpaid labor and would be looking into the situation. Additionally, they noted that “the Serpentine only supports paid positions on all of its projects and commissions, and is a London Living Wage employer.” This isn’t the first time a Japanese Serpentine Pavilion designer has drawn flak for using unpaid interns. The 2013 pavilion architect, Sou Fujimoto, was accused of doing the same and defended himself in Dezeen, saying that "in Japan we have a long history of interns and usually the students work for free for several periods. It’s a nice opportunity for both of us: [for the employer] to know younger generations and for them to know how architects in Japan or different countries are working." AN has reached out Junya Ishigami + Associates for comment and will update this article accordingly.
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Japanese architect Arata Isozaki named the 2019 Pritzker laureate

Japanese architect, planner, and theorist Arata Isozaki has been awarded the 2019 Pritzker Architecture Prize. Isozaki, born in 1931, was deeply influenced by the aftermath of World War II and the destruction of his hometown of Ōita, after which he became fascinated by the temporal nature of the built environment. “When I was old enough to begin an understanding of the world,” writes Isozaki, “my hometown was burned down. Across the shore, the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, so I grew up on ground zero. It was in complete ruins, and there was no architecture, no buildings and not even a city. Only barracks and shelters surrounded me. So, my first experience of architecture was the void of architecture, and I began to consider how people might rebuild their homes and cities.” After founding his own practice in the 1960s, Isozaki left Japan to cultivate a broader knowledge of world architecture. In his sixty years of practice, Isozaki has continued to build in a manner known more for its programmatic solutions and contextual nature than solid adherence to a single style or typology. From the Ōita Prefectural Library built in 1966, a stalwart example of Japanese Brutalism, to the 1986 Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Isozaki has never shied away from tailoring his approach to specific projects. Following the reconstruction period after World War II, Isozaki made his name as one of the few Japanese architects to build abroad beginning in the 1980s and in doing so, exported a truly international style to the West. “Isozaki is a pioneer in understanding that the need for architecture is both global and local—that those two forces are part of a single challenge,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Jury Chair in a statement. “For many years, he has been trying to make certain that areas of the world that have long traditions in architecture are not limited to that tradition, but help spread those traditions while simultaneously learning from the rest of the world.” The jury’s citation notes Isozaki’s importance in facilitating a global dialogue on design. “Clearly, he is one of the most influential figures in contemporary world architecture on a constant search, not afraid to change and try new ideas. His architecture rests on profound understanding, not only of architecture but also of philosophy, history, theory, and culture. He has brought together East and West, not through mimicry or as a collage, but through the forging of new paths. He has set an example of generosity as he supports other architects and encourages them in competitions or through collaborative works." Isozaki is the eighth Japanese architect to be awarded the prize. The 2019 awards ceremony will be held sometime in May at the Château de Versailles, which will be followed by a lecture in Paris.
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Suspended structure will house research into space-exploring Japanese robots

New York–based firm Clouds Architecture Office has designed a suspended research facility for AVATAR X, a partnership between ANA Holdings Inc. and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Japanese space agency, developing space-exploring robots. The levitating building will be at the center of the AVATAR X Lab Oita campus, which will host office and laboratory space for various tech companies invited to participate in the partnership's research, along with a lunar-like landscape for testing remotely-operated vehicles. AVATAR X is focused on developing avatars, specialized robots that humans can direct and manipulate from a remote location, thereby obviating the need for humans to go to space themselves. The floating lab structure will stand nearly 60 feet above the bottom of an artificial crater at the center of the campus. A series of other buildings will complete the campus in Oita prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.
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GSAPP’s DeathLAB examines evolving attitudes towards mortality

The SANAA-designed 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art at Kanazawa, Japan, is hosting the exhibition DeathLAB: Democratizing Death, featuring works by the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP)-based, transdisciplinary lab, led by associate professor of architecture Karla Rothstein. The exhibition is free and runs through March 24, 2019. The exhibition covers DeathLAB's architectural and artistic proposals that address the changing nature of spaces of death in contemporary society, a topic with particular relevance to Japan. The Japanese urban landscape is stressed by over-population, declining birthrates, and an aging population. Due to a shortage of space, people have begun seeking affordable space-saving burial measures. For example, in Tokyo, CNN reported on the Ruriden, a repository of LED-lit Buddha statues, and Shinjuku Rurikoin Byakurengedo, a futuristic temple designed by Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama of Amorphe. It contains a “smart library for ashes” that transports people using a conveyor belt system to underground urns. Alternative practices such as online funerals are also on the rise. The exhibition showcases DeathLAB’s ongoing work in this area through a three-part film and architectural models. The films feature interviews with experts in areas ranging from philosophy to historic preservation.
An illuminated model of Constellation Park, a 2014 unbuilt project, has been assembled for the show. According to a statement by the museum’s curator, Yoshiko Takahashi, “the project proposed nesting thousands of light-emitting ‘memorial vessels’ underneath New Yorkʼs iconic Manhattan Bridge. Harnessing the human bodyʼs latent bio-energy, the memorial vessels would be populated with calibrated microbial colonies to gradually decompose corpses over the course of a year, generating methane that would, in turn, be used to illuminate the vessel network in a dazzling constellation of mourning lights.” The lab believes that death transcends differences of “ethnicity, religion, and political/economic constraints." Constellation Park is meant to be an example of how death can be “democratized” in the metropolis. The project reinterprets the process of biodegradation present in natural burials. It is inspired by the 1960s Japanese Metabolist movement that was enamored with the relationship between organic biological growth and architecture. Check out this link for more details.
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Studio Ghibli, creator of 'Spirited Away' and 'Princess Mononoke', releases new drawings of its theme park

Miyazaki fans, rejoice: there’s a new theme park coming to Japan built around animation house Studio Ghibli, the Oscar-winning studio known for films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro founded by Hayao Miyazaki. In 2017 Japan’s Aichi Prefecture announced that they would be building a Studio Ghibli theme park. Early renderings of the park were released this year, done in the style of Miyazaki’s movies. While details about the rides have not been released, the fantastical renderings hint at what’s to come. The theme park will be divided into sections based on films, including Princess Mononoke Village (Princess Mononoke), Witch Valley (Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service), and a Totoro-themed Dondoko Forest (My Neighbor Totoro). Visitors will be greeted with a partial recreation of the castle from Howl’s Moving Castle, according to Sora News 24. The park will be built on the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park, a 500-acre lot that previously served as the site for the World’s Fair and where there is already a life-size replica of the house from My Neighbor Totoro. The new park will be integrated into the existing grounds and make use of existing facilities while building new structures to become a "one-of-a-kind park", according to the Aichi government. Studio Ghibli is a world-famous animation studio based in Japan and can be considered to be one of the pioneers of the anime genre. Its co-founder, Hayao Miyazaki, is often compared to Walt Disney and is the mastermind behind many of the studio’s famous films. No architect or designer has been announced at this stage. The theme park is slated to be completed in 2022 in Aichi Prefecture’s Nagakute City, near Nagoya.
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Hirshhorn sculpture garden will be dedicated entirely to works by Lee Ufan

Washington D.C's Hirshhorn Museum has announced a site-specific commission for the Korean artist Lee Ufan that will debut in fall 2019. Approximately ten new sculptures related to the artist’s “Relatum” series will be installed across the museum’s 4.3-acre sculpture garden. An exhibit of Lee’s abstract painting within the museum will accompany the outdoor installation. This is the first time in the institution’s half-century history that its sculpture garden will be dedicated entirely to a single artist. A founder of Japan’s Mono-ha, or "School of Things" movement, Lee’s work emphasizes the relationship between site, materials and the viewer. This holistic treatment of artistic elements appeals to a contemplative and dynamic engagement with the work rather than static perception. The poignancy of Lee’s work derives from the thoughtful assembly of contrasting materials, which are subject to minimal alteration. Lee, who lives in Kamakura, Japan and Paris, will spend the next year conducting site visits to the Hirshhorn Museum. Additionally, Lee will visit individual quarries across the East Coast to source local materials to construct his work. Each sculpture constructed for the installation will relate to the museum’s unique circular form, allowing visitors multiple vantage points from above to view Lee’s work in the plaza below. While the installation will be Lee Ufan's first exhibition on the National Mall, the artist has conducted over 140 one-artist exhibits across the globe. These stand-alone works include 'Resonance' at the 2007 Venice Biennale, a major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in 2011, and a sprawling display of sculptural works on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles.
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Paul Goldberger's tribute to Rafael Moneo for the 2017 Praemium Imperiale

Spanish architect Rafael Moneo is one of five 2017 Praemium Imperiale laureates, an annual prize of 15 million yen (approximately $136,000) given by The Japan Art Association. The other winners are performer Mikhail Baryshnikov, Senegalese world music star Youssou N’Dour, as well as Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat and Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui. At a ceremony in Tokyo on October 18, His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi, honorary patron of the Japan Art Association, will present each laureate with a specially-designed gold medal. At the announcement at The Juilliard School in Manhattan on September 12th, author and critic Paul Goldberger gave a short speech reflecting on Moneo’s long career, which includes completed buildings such as the National Museum of Roman Art(1986) in Merida, Spain, the Madrid Atocha Railway Station (1992), the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (2002) in Los Angeles, and the Prado Museum Extension (2007), as well as awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (1996) and the RIBA Royal Gold Medal (2003). “It is with great pleasure that we announce that the Praemium Imperiale Prize in Architecture will go to Rafael Moneo of Spain. Moneo is based in Madrid, but he is very much an architect of the world. For many years he headed the architecture program at Harvard, and he has designed numerous buildings in the United States, including the monumental Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles. I vividly recall his very first American building, the Davis Museum at Wellesley College, of 1994, which called to mind the work of Louis Kahn, and helped establish Moneo as an architect capable of strong, brooding, sensitive buildings that were powerful objects in themselves, but also comfortable neighbors to very different kinds of architecture. It was a particular challenge here because the new building was just beside a much-admired building by Paul Rudolph, a great architect whose work is not particularly easy to be adjacent to. That is a particular problem in architecture: the past is not only an idea that an architect must deal with psychologically and creatively but in any kind of urban or campus setting it is also a physical presence he or she must in some way acknowledge. This is especially important to Rafael Moneo: he insists that his work at once be distinctive and be part of a larger historical continuity. He does not want to design buildings that look like older ones, but neither does he want to design buildings that look as if the older ones were not there, and had not had an impact on him. He is incapable of designing in a vacuum; his starting point is always what is there, which he then uses to create something we have never seen before. His National Museum of Roman Art in Merida, Spain, of 1986, a magnificent essay in brick arches, both honors the Roman tradition and moves beyond it. His expansion of the Prado in his home city of Madrid, like the Davis Museum, deals with the deep challenge of making the new be and feel new while at the same time acknowledging and being connected to the old.   Rafael Moneo is an architect of sensitivity and strength, of sanctuary and serenity, and in his best works these qualities are not oppositional but reinforce each other to create objects of lasting beauty that speak to the spirit of our time, and beyond." Past winners of the prize include Ingmar Bergman, Leonard Bernstein, Peter Brook, Anthony Caro, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Norman Foster, Jean-Luc Godard, Willem de Kooning, Akira Kurosawa, Arthur Miller, Seiji Ozawa, Renzo Piano, Robert Rauschenberg, Mstislav Rostropovich, Ravi Shankar, Cindy Sherman, and Stephen Sondheim. "Once I learned of some of the other people who had won the prize, I felt so satisfied to think I will be among so many great people," Moneo told AN.
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Phil Bernstein on students using digital tools to maximize renderings and sustainability

This is the second column of “Practice Values,” a bi-monthly series by architect and technologist Phil Bernstein. The column focuses on the evolving role of the architect at the intersection of design and construction, including subjects such as alternative delivery systems and value generation. Bernstein was formerly vice president at Autodesk and now teaches at the Yale School of Architecture.

I recently sat on a midterm design jury for the Yale studio taught by the dynamic duo of Patrick Bellew of Atelier Ten and Andy Bow of Foster + Partners. It’s a rare treat for those of us who teach in the “suburbs” of the curriculum (in my case, professional practice) to visit the hip “downtown nightclub” scene of the design studios. The jury comprised far more talented designers than me, so I kept my focus and comments on issues of process and outcomes.

The brief was both thrilling and daunting: Design a museum and restaurant complex, including production facilities, for a sake company in historic Kyoto, Japan, on one of two challenging sites facing a shallow river; acknowledge the intricate urban context; solve for the production complexities of the ancient art of sake manufacturing; create a strong work of architecture. And, by the way, make your solution environmentally responsible through clear sustainable design strategies. The morning sake tasting we held before the jury began steeled both the jurors and the students for the intense day ahead.

As I watched our students present their projects, I was amazed at their energy, determination, and facility with almost every challenge of the brief. It was midterm, so many issues were not unexpectedly left unresolved, but few were ignored. Andy and Patrick had guided these 10 folks to unique, provocative, and dare I say even poetic solutions. It was hard for this architect, trained in these same jury pits in the pre-digital age, to believe the sheer skill with which these schemes were iterated, analyzed, evaluated, and presented. There was no question that the students’ development as designers was accelerated by an ability to deploy digital tools—visualization, cogent drawing and diagramming, CNC-model fabrication—in the service of their craft augmented with an array of beautiful hand sketches. All these skills were clearly mutually amplifying. I don’t think any of my final presentations in school were nearly as resolved, nor presented so beautifully.

The jury and students met after the review to discuss more general observations, when I explained that the biggest surprise of the day for me, to wit, was the generally tangential treatment that sustainability received in the solutions. There were the typical gestures to ventilation, the movement of the sun, or attempts to co-locate hot and cold functions in the sake factory, but overall the sustainability challenge received much the same treatment that might have been given if the brief had had a building code requirement—it was considered somehow adjacent to the central problems of the Design with a big “D.” I was reminded of a statement made by one of my professors, Vincent Scully, when I asked him about the importance of “solar architecture,” a design approach popular in the 1970s: “Oh, that’s just plumbing.”

Somehow the digital facility applied to solving the context, planning, massing, and compositional challenges of the brief was nowhere apparent in answering questions of sustainability. A wide array of computational analytical tools is easily available to today’s students, ranging from various Rhino-based Grasshopper scripts, through Energy Plus, to Impact Infrastructure’s AutoCASE. It may be that Patrick and Andy will press this particular part of the pedagogical agenda later in the term. If so, our students would benefit from the advice of juror Michelle Addington, Hines Professor of Sustainable Architectural Design at Yale University School of Architecture, who suggested that the tyranny of the sustainable checklist (such as LEED or BREAM) should lead to choosing a single important green strategy, and making sure that it’s accomplished well. The tools are certainly there to do so.

This seems a reasonable teaching strategy if combined with another requirement: demonstrable outcomes of that given green approach. Today’s digital design tools provide vivid answers to design questions of composition, drawing clarity, senses of three-dimensional space. Analytical algorithms that evaluate the quantitative results of a scheme are the “renderings” of sustainability, with hard and fast results. While those results may be only approximations as a design evolves, they are also a measure of sustainable success or failure. And learning to deliver those results in concert with a skillful design prepares these same students to make the demonstrable value arguments that future practice will demand. This will be a central theme of some of my subsequent columns.

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Kazuyo Sejima designs museum dedicated to Japanese artist Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, the artist behind the The Great Wave Off Kanagawa—a painting so famous it even has its own emoji—now has a museum dedicated to his work. The Sumida Hokusai Museum in Tokyo opened in November last year and was designed by Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, co-founder of SANAA.

Inside, more than 18,000 works from Hokusai and his protégés are on display. On the outside, however, a reflective aluminum skin wraps around the entire structure, dampening its monolithic form. The aluminum facade comprises an arrangement of angled panels. This formation allows the museum entrance to remain ambiguous and relatively undefined. Meanwhile, angled cuts through the building also soften the form's presence while serving as a way of allowing daylight in—the museum has no directly outward facing windows.

In addition to letting light in, the angular voids also provide views out. Museum-goers can enjoy vistas of Japan's capital city from within when on the upper levels. Walkways and programming too are defined by these incisions.

As part of the brief, Sejima was asked to design a museum that appealed to both tourists and locals. Hokusai lived in the region of Sumida, Edo (now known as Tokyo) roughly 200 years ago. The museum dedicated to his work and legacy resides in the same area—hence its name. The Pritzker Prize–winning architect's five-story building not only holds close to 20,000 works but, includes seminar, lecture, and workshop spaces, as well as a research center. This program is a bid to broaden the scope of Hokusai's work, making it accessible to a wider audience and cementing his status within the art world.

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MAD Architects transforms a house into a playful, airy kindergarten

Beijing-based MAD Architects has completed work on the new Clover House kindergarten, the firm’s first project in Japan. The project deconstructs an existing catalog home, peeling away everything except its structure in order to expand the building’s footprint. Located in the Aichi Prefecture of central Japan, the school is operated by a pair of brothers who wanted to establish a facility that could be as comfortable as a home. MAD Architects principal Ma Yansong cites this impetus as the project's driving force, explaining in a press release, “It was important to create a kindergarten that felt like a home, and give the kids the best possible house to grow up in, one that promotes their learning and creativity.” The new bulbous, faceted structure billows around the preserved structural frame, which is now an informal space divider. One corner of the new house swoops down as it meets a new catenary-arched entrance while a second-floor slide descends onto an expansive playground. The interior spaces of the school weave through and climb over the remains of the existing home, with staircases bringing classrooms and play spaces onto what would have been the roof of the existing building. As with MAD Architects’ recent Xinhee Design Center in Beijing, China, the designers were inspired by the analogous relationship between bones and flesh that the existing beams and new covering reproduce: The roughly-hewn beams of the existing house play against the smooth blonde wood and gypsum articulation of the new interior spaces. The new skin, soft with plaster, is punched through by geometrically-shaped windows flood that flood the interior with light. Outside, the monolithic exterior is clad in white vernacular asphalt shingles.
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Would you live in this prefab "Window House" from Muji—without charge—for two years?

Minimalist masters Muji are offering up the chance for a two-year stay in their new, fully-furnished "Window House" for free. Located in Kamakura, roughly 31 miles south of Tokyo, the house—in keeping with its name—features windows on all four sides. In the living room, large windows facilitate expansive views onto the garden. A skylight allows further light in from above. With its typical minimalist white interior and open floor plan, this light is reflected throughout the space. Small eaves attached to the top of these windows reduce solar gain in the summer, stopping excess heating. The Window House is the largest from Muji so far. Last year they unveiled the Vertical House as well as an assortment of much smaller residences. Applicants who want a free stay in the house don't have to be Japanese, though will have to be able to read and speak it. This due to the fact that Muji is eager to collect feedback on the house and the experiences of its long-term inhabitants. During this process, the residents will report back regularly to Muji's designers and research team. As an added bonus, once the two-year stint is over the former residents will receive Muji furniture for life. Applications are currently open and close at the end of the month. You can sign up here.
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Airbnb’s new design studio’s first project, Yoshino House, revealed

Airbnb’s newly announced design studio, Samara, worked with Tokyo-based architect Go Hasegawa to create the Yoshino Cedar House for Japanese designer Kenya Hara’s exhibition, House Vision 2016. Hara invited Airbnb, among other companies to participate in the exhibition to re-envision the future of housing. Hasegawa and Airbnb created a rentable apartment that also serves as a community hub. A small Japanese village, Yoshino, donated land and offered resources for the project. The structure will be owned by the community so that “the community is the host,” Airbnb cofounder and CPO Joe Gebbia told AN. The entire village benefits from the proceeds of the rent, which will hopefully help revitalize the local economy. It is, in a sense, taking the shared economy structure to the next level. For the Yoshino House, Hasegawa selected local cedar wood as the main material used indoors and out. The trees were felled and treated by local woodsmen and carpenters, so Yoshino's heritage and aesthetic is woven into the entire process. The first floor will be open to the entire community, while the upper floor can be rented out to overnight guests. According to Gebbia, “the local experience benefits the visitors, while the community can feel pride in that it has to offer. Increasingly, travelers are drawn to unique experiences outside the normal tourist gamut of cities and structures. While small, Yoshino boasts a small-batch sake factory, a chopstick factory, and an incredible leaf display 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. After the exhibition is over, the Yoshino House will be moved to a riverside location and registered on Airbnb as a listing. To learn more about the benefits to the community and Gebbia’s thoughts on the future of housing and Airbnb, check out our exclusive interview with Gebbia.