Posts tagged with "Japan":

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).
Placeholder Alt Text

Shigeru Ban’s Mt. Fuji Visitors Center Flips the Mountain Upside Down

In the summer of 2013, Mt. Fuji was named a UNESCO World Heritage site. The designation was of the cultural rather than the natural variety, in part because of the way the mountain has "inspired artists and poets." Japanese architect Shigeru Ban plans to add a quite literal architectural chapter to this legacy of inspiration in the form of a visitor center commemorating the mountain's recently-minted status. Ban's design takes Fuji's iconic silhouette as its centerpiece and then inverts it, generating an upside-down lattice cone surrounded by a 46,000-square-foot glass cube. The building is set to be located in Shizuoka prefecture of Japan and will offer views of the nearby mountain. A surrounding pool of water reflects the structure's central cone, restoring the right-side up vision of its formal source material. A committee lead by the Ohara Museum of Art selected Ban's plan ahead of 238 competing entries for the project. Construction on the $23.5 million structure will begin in 2015.
Placeholder Alt Text

Out of Chaos, Japanese Designers Shape a Pop-Up Bar Made From Reed-Grass

Designer Naoya Matsumoto and her peers at Seian University of Art and Design have created a unique meeting space for students on the Japanese campus. Their creation, a pop-up bar, is created from six panels of locally-sourced reeds called Yoshi. The chaotic construction resembles a traditional gabled roof structure in abstract form. Each year, students of the design school are challenged to create objects from the Yoshi reeds which grow freely around Lake Biwa, an area close to the university campus. The dried reeds which form the outer skin of the structure are connected at intersecting points, and explode outwards in a controlled, yet chaotic fashion. These intersecting reeds provide glimpses of the intimate bar space within, and at night, the use of flood lights creates an enchanting, glowing effect inside the pavilion. With a production time of two days, the unique structure provides students a relaxing, breezy escape, and is also highly portable and recyclable.
Placeholder Alt Text

House K by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects Makes the Most of a Small Lot

Situated on the fringes of Tokyo's dense urban fabric, House K—designed by Hiroyuki Shinozaki Architects—provides an innovative take on the traditional duplex home. The architects were posed with the challenge of creating a joint-living arrangement for two families on a very narrow piece of land. While the structure may look small and narrow from the outside, the thoughtful design demonstrates that a building’s allocated footprint need not be a limiting factor in achieving a feeling of wide, open spaces. There are no dividing walls of a traditional duplex house which would essentially create two separate residences. Instead, the structure consists of 3 main components: a slender wing, a wider wing, and a long corridor which connects the two. While the slender wing of the house is less than seven feet wide, the height is 30 feet, making maximum use of vertical space. Stretching across a three-tiered floor plan, the kitchens, bathrooms, closets and a small bedroom are all contained in the slender wing of the house, while larger bedrooms and living rooms occupy the wider half of the building. The corridor connecting the two wings is very well lit through the strategic placement of punctured apertures in the roof structure, and instead of doorways, there are large openings in the walls of the corridor. Overall, this creates a sense of openness and outdoor space inside the residence. The juxtaposition of wood and concrete create an interesting dialogue; the wooden elements reminiscent of traditional Japanese homes, while the concrete evokes a distinctly modern aesthetic. This space-efficient house provides an innovative solution to housing in dense cities, whilst maintaining privacy, physical comfort, and a superior level of design aesthetic.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Tokyo Store Changes with Fashion Trends

Placed within Tokyo’s Daikanayama district, architect Arthur Casas has designed a flagship store to appear completely as an opaque box. As fashion trends change, so does the store’s appearance. The exterior walls boast a bold graphic design that will surely be swapped out for the next season’s trends. Created to display Brazilian designer Alexandre Herchcovitch’s clothing designs, the box nods to the idea of pedestrian curiosity and does not reveal its entire contents even when opened. The multi-level box has been described as “a wrapped up present just waiting to be opened.” Completed in 2007, the approximately 1,076 square-foot store’s facade embraces flashy prints and daring designs, but features surprisingly neutral interior materials in order to emphasize the details found in Herchcovitch's designs. The store contains an exhibition space in addition to storage space at the mezzanine level and a basement.  
Placeholder Alt Text

Culture at Risk: World Monuments Fund Watch List Includes Palisades, FLW’s Taliesin

The World Monuments Fund has announced its 2014 Watch List for cultural sites at risk by changes in economy, society, and politics within their respective countries and disrepair due to natural forces. For 2014, the Monument Watch List, compiled and released every two years since 1996, has cited 67 heritage risks in 41 countries and territories around the world. These sites range from Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1911-built Taliesin home in Wisconsin, submissive to elements of weathering, to the tree-lined Palisades cliffs in New York and New Jersey, jeopardized by corporate construction plans, to all of the cultural sites of Syria, risked by current war conflict. Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin The World Monuments Fund explains:
The low-lying structures of Taliesin seem in harmony with the rugged landscape, neither feature imposing upon the other. But the forces of nature, including exposure to the elements over time, have put the complex at risk. Taliesin was included on the 2010 Watch to draw attention to these issues, and now the Hillside Theater, the most public of the spaces at Taliesin, is suffering from water infiltration, perimeter drainage issues, a failing roof, and other problems with the building envelope. Due to the experimental nature of the design and materials used to construct Taliesin, the structures face special conservation challenges requiring extensive research and innovative solutions.
Cultural Heritage Sites of Syria The World Monuments Fund explains:
Escalating violence in Syria since 2011 has had devastating effects on the country’s cultural heritage. From the ancient souk, or marketplace, in Aleppo, to the iconic Crac des Chevaliers—two castles that were built between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries as regional fortifications during the Crusades—to Qal’at al-Mudiq, an archaeological tell that forms part of the classical city of Apamea, the destruction of Syria’s most significant and symbolic sites is of urgent and primary concern, with irreversible implications for the country’s architectural legacy.
The Cloisters and the Palisades, New York and New Jersey The World Monuments Fund explains:
The Cloisters Museum itself houses the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection of European medieval art and incorporates monastic architectural elements in its design including stone and stained-glass panels for the doors, and windows. Since its opening in 1938, a defining feature of visiting the Cloisters is an extraordinary vista across the Hudson River to the Palisades. Plans are underway to construct a corporate headquarters and a residential complex on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, modifying zoning legislation to accommodate towers that rise above the once protected tree line of the Palisades. ... An appeal is underway, and it is hoped that inclusion on the Watch will raise awareness about the loss to future generations posed by this development and others that may follow.
East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites After a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and related tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, the World Monuments Fund set the heritage sites of the coastal regions of Tohoku and Kanto on its 2012 Watch List. Since then, the WMF collaborated with the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research to save over 700 national monuments affected by the disaster. Several historic architectural structures were damaged or destroyed by the power of the quake. Although progress has been made, the landmarks which are important to the tourism of the region, are still at risk, in need of grants for continued restoration. Güell Pavilions and Garden, Barcelona, Spain The World Monuments Fund explains:
After Güell's death the estate was converted into a palace for the Spanish Royal Family. The site was later acquired by the University of Barcelona during its expansion into this area in the 1950s, and it now forms part of the Avinguda Diagonal campus of the university. Public access to the garden has been limited, but a new master plan prepared by the university and the city's Municipal Institute of Urban Landscape and Quality of Life provides for improved access to the site by visitors and expanded use for university events. Repairs to the structures are necessary, and a project to rehabilitate the roof of the stable is already underway with funding from the Spanish Ministry of Education. More resources are needed to implement this well-conceived plan for the benefit of all citizens of Barcelona, and the millions who visit this enchanting city every year.
Elevators of Valparaíso, Valparaíso, Chile The World Monuments Fund explains:
The Elevators of Valparaíso have been included on the 2014 Watch to emphasize the continuing need for the restoration of the city’s most picturesque feature and an important vehicle for social interaction. The elevators have served as the main method of transportation along the city’s steep topography and were fundamental to its urban development. They symbolize Valparaíso’s preeminence as a maritime center, a position it lost after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914. Of the 31 original elevators, only 15 remain, of which just 7 are operational. The loss of these vital transit arteries has had negative impacts on the city. A plan unifying community, municipal, and private entities in a collective effort to protect and maintain the elevators is needed to ensure their long-term survival and the revitalization of important neighborhoods in Valparaíso.
Cultural Heritage Sites of Mali Since armed conflicts began in Mali in 2012, the country’s heritage sites have been endangered and have suffered some damage. According to the WMF, “nine of the sixteen mausoleums within the World Heritage Site boundaries of Timbuktu were destroyed by rebel forces.” And now, troops are advancing to encroach on the Bandiagara Escarpment in Dogon country and the natural material architectural structures there. Christ Church at Zanzibar, Tanzania The World Monuments Fund explains:
Stone Town has a number of important sites that together have created a vibrant tourist industry, but sectarian conflict, lack of financial resources, and political issues pose ongoing challenges to implementing restoration projects on many of its sites. Nevertheless, plans are under development for formal training and capacity-building programs at Christ Church Cathedral, and there are strong networks in place for local stewardship of the site. Christ Church Cathedral and the Former Slave Market Site is included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch to promote its conservation and its role in a broader revitalization strategy for Stone Town; one that will be compelling to the international community but will also support Zanzibari citizens and their local economy.
Battersea Power Station, London, United Kingdom The World Monuments Fund explains:
Since 1983, Battersea Power Station has been closed to the public, marking a thirty-year period of abandonment and lack of appropriate maintenance. The station was first listed on the Watch in 2004, and its impending demolition was averted. Ten years later, the Power Station’s future is once again in question. Located on prime London real estate, the site is slated for imminent redevelopment. There is concern that current plans do not adequately protect the iconic chimneys and the important viewsheds of the power station’s silhouette. The local community is engaged and vested in the future of their swathe of London, and the international community recognizes the cultural significance of this twentieth-century icon. Inclusion on the Watch seeks to reinvigorate and contribute to conversations regarding the long-term stewardship of Battersea Power Station.
The complete list by country is as follows: Argentina · Church and Monastery of St. Catherine of Siena, Buenos Aires Armenia · Bardzrakash St. Gregory Monastery, Dsegh, Lori Province Belgium · Collegiale Sainte-Croix de Liege, Liege Brazil · Serra da Moeda, Minas Gerais Chile · Elevators of Alparaíso, Valparaíso · Palacio La Alhambra, Santiago China · Pokfulam Village, Hong Kong Colombia · Ancient Ridged Fields of the San Jorge River Floodplain, Córdoba and Sucre Departments Comoros · Funi Aziri Bangwe, Ikoni, Grande Comore Ecuador · Remigio Crespo Toral Museum, Cuenca, Azuay Province Egypt · Bayt-Al-Razzaz, Cairo Ethiopia · Yemrehanna Kristos, Amhara Region France · Churches of Saint-Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris Germany · Gaslight and Gas Lamps of Berlin, Berlin Guatemala · Uaxactun, Petén Department Guyana · Georgetown City Hall, Georgetown India · Historic City of Bidar, Karnataka · House of Shaikh Salim Chishti, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh · Juna Mahal, Dungarpur, Rajasthan Indonesia · Ngada Villages of Flores, Flores, Nusa Tenggara · Peceren and Dokan, Karo District, North Sumatra · Trowulan, Mojokerto, East Java Iraq · Khinnis Reliefs, Kurdistan Region Italy · Farnese Aviaries, Rome · Historic Center of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Abruzzo · Muro Dei Francesi, Ciampino, Province of Rome, Lazio · Venice, Venice, Veneto Japan · East Japan Earthquake Heritage Sites, Tohoku and Kanto Regions · Sanro-Den of Sukunahikona Shrine, Ozu, Ehime Prefecture, Shikoku Jordan · Damiya Dolmen Field, Damiya, Jordan Valley Kenya · Lamu Old Town, Lamu Macedonia · Monastery of Poloshko, Kavadarci Municipality Mali · Cultural Heritage Sites of Mali Mexico · Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Nuevo León · Retablos de los Altos de Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas and Teopisca, Chiapas Mozambique · Island of Mozambique, Napula Province Myanbar · Yangon Historic City Center, Yangon Nigeria · Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Osogbo, Osun State Pakistan · Shikarpoor Historic City Center, Shikarpoor Municipality Palestinian Territory · Ancient Irrigated Terraces of Battir, Bethlehem Governorate, West Bank Peru · Capilla de la Virgen Concebida de Kuchuhuasi, Quispicanchi, Cusco · Cerro Sechín, Casma, Ancash · Chan Chan, Trujilli, La Libertad · Gran Pajatén, Mariscal Céceres, San Martín Portugal · Fort of Graça, Elvas, Alentjo · Joanine Library of the University of Coimbra, Coimbra Romania · Great Synagogue of Iasi, Iasi · Wooden Churches of Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania, Northern Oltenia and Southern Transylvania Singapore · Bukit Brown Spain · Güell Pavilions and Garden, Barcelona · Iglesia Parroquial San Pedro Apóstol, Buenache de Alarcón, Cuenca Syria · Cultural Heritage Sites of Syria Tanzania · Christ Church Cathedral, Zanzibar, Stone Town, Zanzibar · Dar es Salaam Historic Center, Dar es Salaam · House of Wonders and Palace Museum, Stone Town, Zanzibar Turkey · Cathedral of Mren, Digor, Kars United Kingdom · Battersea Power Station, London · Deptform Dockyard and Sayes Court Garden, London · Grimsby Ice Factory and Kasbah, Grimsby, Lincolnshire · Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, Northamptonshire United States · Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas · George Najashima House, Studio, and Workshop, Bucks County, Pennsylvania · Henry Klumb House, San Juan, Puerto Rico · Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, St. Louis, Missouri · Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin · The Cloisters and Palisades, New York and New Jersey Venezuela · Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas, Caracas