Posts tagged with "Japan":

Placeholder Alt Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

MAD Architects drape this Japanese kindergarten with a mysterious facade meant to evoke a fort

Chinese architecture firm MAD has broken ground on their first project in Japan, a kindergarten in Okazaki, Aichi that will be designed in the owner’s own family house. The subsequent home-like atmosphere of the “Clover house” is meant to foster the school’s pedagogy of emotional bonds and trust. By making a school that is a shelter, the architects seek to create a haven for education. The transformation of the 1,100 square-foot house began with the reuse of the existing wood structure, which is a relatively standard construction. This skeleton is covered y a new skin and structure, which has a blurry relationship with the existing form, including a pitched roof that frames interior spaces while telling a story about the history of the structure. The new skin drapes over the building to cast the old structure in a new light. The architects want it to be like a “mystical cave and a pop-up fort,” and this sense of playfulness is continued in the design of the house, as the building is wrapped in a series of paper-like pieces that act as a canvas for students to draw on. The kindergarten is scheduled for completion in December 2015.
Placeholder Alt Text

Richard Meier completes first phase of Japanese residential skyscraper project

Construction recently wrapped on Richard Meier's first residential building in Japan—and with its white louvers and glassy facade, it sure has the architect's trademark look. The 49-story, 883-unit building in Tokyo is the first piece of the Harumi Towers, a residential development that will include 1,744 apartments when the second tower opens next April. On Meier's website, Dukho Yeon, the partner-in-charge, described the two buildings as siblings "with two unique designs each with its own character, image and movement, in dialogue and harmony with one another." The residential buildings, which will share amenities, also come with a public promenade along Tokyo Bay.
Placeholder Alt Text

Wonders of the World: Ashikaga Park in Japan begets a fairytale dreamscape with thousands of dripping wisteria blooms

If marveling at Spring’s fledgling flora will usher in warmer weather quicker, here’s something to ogle. The wisteria blooms at world-famous Ashikaga Park, located 50 miles from Tokyo, Japan, gives New York City’s botanical garden a run for its money with its live hanging curtains of cascading petals that render a fairytale-like dreamscape. The park is home to Japan’s largest and oldest flowers, a cultural icon locally known as fuji. What is now a panorama of pastel petals began as four giant wisteria vines in 1996, which have since grown to cover 11,000 square feet. The carefully pruned blooms hang from trellises and are grouped in clusters, and with proper manicuring, can grow upwards in tree form rather than climb surfaces. Related to the pea and native to North America, China and Japan, the climbing plants can be seen in their best light from mid-April to mid-May, when tourists from all over the world throng the park. The 291 foot-long Tunnel of White Wisteria envelops visitors from all sides, while the Giant Wisteria is a living umbrella whose multi-colored shade spans 118 by 118 feet. Meanwhile, the Yae-fuji wisteria trellis of purple blooms resembles hanging grapes, but the main attractions are the white wisteria “Waterfall” and the yellow Kibana-fuji. One hundred and sixty of the wisteria plants are more than 60 years old, while one plant has reputedly attained the tender age of 144. Fuji start off as light pink blooms, which then become purple, white, and then yellow. Beneath the surface, 260 tons of charcoal is buried, which fertilizes the soil and helps to purify the air much the way ash from a newly-erupted volcano yields richer earth. An awe-inspiring experience redolent of scenes from Avatar, the park admits adult visitors for around 1,000 yen, depending on the season.
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake

Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake MAK Center 835 North Kings Road West Hollywood, California Through January 4, 2015 The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 devastated the island nation, setting off a tsunami that destroyed over 300 miles of coastline, causing the failure of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, and leaving more than 20,000 people dead and 470,000 without homes. The severe damage from the catastrophe propelled architects to take action, swiftly and creatively, as illustrated in a new exhibit, Groundswell: Guerilla Architecture in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake. Faced with the slow moving bureaucracy of the government response, a number of architects—including Manabu Chiba, Momoyo Kaijima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (of Atelier Bow-Wow), Senhiko Nakata, Osamu Tsukhashi, and Riken Yamamoto—decided to take matters into their own hands and work with local communities to rebuild, using a myriad of design solutions. Through this grassroots movement, the show explores how architects can jumpstart and participate in recovery efforts following a natural disaster.

Eavesdrop> Are We Done with Architecture Petitions Yet? Zaha Hadid Faces Tokyo Backlash

Speaking of controversy, Zaha Hadid can’t catch a break! Since her stadium design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled, complaints have arisen about the scale and height of the project. Then two of Japan’s biggest architects—Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki—signed on to a petition calling for a revised design. As of press time more than 26,500 people have signed on to protest the design. Is someone’s star beginning to dim?
Placeholder Alt Text

On View> "On the Thresholds of Space-Making" at Washington University in St. Louis

On the Thresholds of Space-Making Sam Fox School, Washington University One Brookings Drive St. Louis, Missouri Through April 20 The work of Shinohara Kazuo (1925–2006), one of Japan’s most influential architects of the postwar generation, is surveyed in On the Thresholds of Space-Making. Shinohara gained popularity as an architect with his series of sublime purist houses designed over a thirty-year period that went through the 1980s. Shinohara scrutinized and reframed fundamental architectural conventions, such as public/private, body/space, and openness/enclosure. This exhibition contains original drawings and sketches that have rarely been seen outside of Japan. These drawings are enhanced by photographs of finished works and scaled models of imagined architecture. A featured work is Shinohara’s House in White (1964–66), in which he rearranges a familiar design palette—a square plan, a pointed roof, white walls, and a symbolic pillar—to give the main room almost oceanic spaciousness. His work has a poetic quality that combines simplicity and surprise. Also showcased in the exhibition is the enduring legacy of Shinohara’s work through projects by younger Japanese architects whom he influenced, including Toyo Ito (b. 1941); Ryue Nishizawa (b. 1966) of the firm SANAA; and Jun’ya Ishigami (b. 1974).