Posts tagged with "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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Metabolist-inspired tower with hexagonal facade coming to south Brooklyn

New York YIMBY has gotten its hands on a batch of first-look renderings of a futuristic tower set to touch down in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and it looks like the building will eschew glass for grass. From the renderings of 1508 Avenue Z, a forthcoming 16-story long-term care home, it looks like architects Citiscape Consulting will wrap their C-shaped building with a dynamic, hexagonal facade. Working from a material palette of white concrete, living green wall, vertical and diagonal louvers, and what appears to be timber, the hexagons will compose a unique pattern as they snake around the building’s curves. Many of the hexagons contain a bit of each material, using tripartite combinations with vegetation at the enclosure’s top. The use of greenery in the facade and at the tower’s top is reportedly in reference to the Japanese Metabolist movement that arose after World War II. The movement, of which the Nakagin Capsule Tower is one of the most famous examples, was an attempt to bridge the gap between organic growth and forms, and the built environment. Biological rhythms, prefabrication, and the vernacular architecture of Japan were used as starting points to design buildings throughout that period. The louvered portions will act as sun shades for the residents within and extend past the parapets to lend the outdoor roof deck shade and privacy. It appears that the roof of the 188-foot-tall building will be heavily forested, and Citiscape will be integrating a rainwater capture system so that the tower can use recycled greywater throughout. YIMBY reports that the nearly 50,000-square-foot tower will be largely residential, with 3,950 feet carved out for ground floor retail, 42,620 square feet has been set aside for 78 residential units, and the remaining 3,130 square feet going towards a medical facility. SB1 Holdings LLC and property owner Emil Blank are developing the lot. No construction cost or estimated date of completion have been released yet.
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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.  
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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
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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.