History of Architecture in one man, over 90 years old


I discovered this interview with Yona Friedman, and he tell his story that has some links with the book of Arata Isozaki, a historical connection with the dutch Hertzenberger. and some affinities with contemporary postmodernism freedom. Overall is a good way to contextualize the few incipits . and why they were few, that Japanese centralized system had to carry on until 1965, and their future conquered adult architecture life.

A 37 minute interview, slow pace, with a difficult English accent, beside that it is really Amazing. I am sorry if you cannot get the relationship, it is not explicit, you have to know some of the History behind it to get it. It goes into the Japanese debate about National Architecture, their stubborness, the metabolistes. How Tange recognized his influences. This come almost last in the video interview below.

 

 

At the end one should explain why the Australian Mercutt got a Pritzker Prize and not this guy, just because he does not speak with a good English accent? Cheers.

Koizumi Showroom, by P.Eisenman, 1990


One more time I was surprised to find a building design by such a foreigner in many sense, here in Tokyo.

EisenKoizumimain

Koizumi is a Japanese brand, now mainly known for lighting fixtures and the building could be its main office in Tokyo. There is a showroom at the ground and basement level. Unfortunately it was closed that day, probably a monday.

The building looked like it was freshly repainted.

Eisenmann is a strong Architectural theorician, the deconstructivist pioneer in USA, and notably one of the most known (Here the website page dedicated to this work) .

I stumbled upon Eisenman notably in two different ways, and surely not walking by those whereabouts. One was by studying the MOOC class, of Harward University on edx.org, still open, and free. It is worth noticing that the Harward architectural class is very close to philosophy more than they would admit.

The second time happened while I was reading a book written by an Italian researcher, Arturo Tedeschi, called Algorithm Aided Design, dedicated to Grasshopper. as pag 17, it shows an Eisenman diagram from House IV, Falls Village, Connecticut (1971).

The question is open, did Eisenman leave any traces in Tokyo but this building? Its diagrammatic style is nowadays presented in many architectural presentations (See BIG book hot to cold) nowadays.

Here they already changed the external color, in the previous bloggers there was a pink and blue sides that now are disappeared into a monotone white.

One day I have to write something about the emerging conflict between the lively colors and the current Japanese trend. Some in fact may wrongly think that the actual distaste to…. anything different than grey , belongs to the Japanese culture.

Far from there the true stands.

Speaking about grey, interesting enough to report. it is the contrast of Architecture positions between Eisenmann and the Swiss, P.Zumthor which is considered as well as the american, a master in its own role. Eisenmann declares he is not interested in details, and to exemplifies what are they details for him, he points to the work of mr.Zumthor.

More than that, between 1966 and 1972, abstraction went out, he says with regret in this 2015 University lecture.

By far the most evocative and successful work of mr. Eisenmann is the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, which is totally grey…!

Yep, it is another architectural short circuit.

The elegant Japanese House: Traditional Sukiya Architecture


This is more than a review, it is an strong suggestion. This book was introduced to me by prof.Stewart, during his MOOC class about Modern Japanese Architecture, and it is astonishing beautiful.

Authors are Teiji Itoh & Yukio Futagawa, published back in 1969, by Tankosha.

Why pointing out this book? Let me cite a passage from it, pg 107.

“It may be well to summarize here the achievements of the sukiya style that particularly enabled it to play a role in the transition to modern styles. In the first place, it began as a strongly individualistic style and was, as he have seen, the only style of Japanese architecture that develop a nomenclature based on the names of its designers – that is, the konomi which has been discussed in an earlier chapter. In the second place, the sukiya is the only style in the history of Japanese architecture that transcended the boundaries of social class, for it was applied to the houses of townsmen and the villas of the aristocracy alike and to such public buildings as restaurants and inns. In the third place, the sukiya-style building, both in its harmony of structure and in its emphasis on the natural beauty of its materials, originated a code of values that endures even today.”

I bolded the part that is indisputably holds true, since when it comes to easthetics, the core values differs from culture to culture, and grasping the japanese ones is essential to understand their realization within the Architecture field.

Beyond the bubble. The new japanese architecture, by Botond Bognar, a review


Continuing my series of readings with the intent to give it a bit of body, I suggest  this book. It is has been published in 2008 by Phaidon Press.

The writer, says the back cover, teaches at University of Illinois(here) . Every time, you take a book that says New …something and it is dated says 10 years ago, you already knows that , at his best, it can give you some hindsight of what is happening now.

The great merit of this book it is in its short essay.

Mr. Bognar explained very well to me, the crazyness of the bubble era to which, until I read this book, I just heard about but I did not realize exactly how it was.

When he describes the real building of architect Masaharu Takasaki, Crystal Light guest House, built in 1986 and demolished in 1989…it says a lot about the folie/madness of the Bubble and he also explains why. My question, of course, arise: are we heading toward another bubble? Olympic itself is triggering it? Those are not in the book, they are my personal doubts about he current situation while stock market is rocketing…instead the book is composed by 4 sections:

1 – Introduction

2- The bubble years – The epitome of Japanese Postmodernism

3 – After the bubble – New Realities, new priorities

4- Beyond the bubble ‐The Architects

The first three sections are terrific. They are well documented and well explained and if you think that one of the most venerate architects, mr Toyo Ito, has Taichung Metropolitan Opera (Taiwan) mentioned and illustrated, when in reality  the construction just finished last year, you have the idea that even if it is written before 2008 it is not yet a dated book.

At the end of the third section he write a paragraph called lightly “Assessing the future – in lieu of a Conclusion” when it reports words from a philosopher Koji Taki, that basically does not suprise.

The 4th section is a commented Gallery, closer to a well illustrated magazine that sports works from 18 Architects studio such as:

Tele-Design, Koji Yagi, Kazunari Sakamoto, Atelier Bow-Wow, Kazuyo Sejima, Shigeru Ban, Waro Kishi, Nikken Sekkei Ltd, SANAA, Jun Aoki, Ryoji Suzuki, Yasumitsu Matsunaga, Riken Yamamoto, Obayashi Corporation, Yoshio Taniguchi, Kengo Kuma, Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito.

If you do not know half of those people than the book it may worth the acquire or if you like architecture large pictures as well. The proposed works are also well explained in their main features. One merit of the book also is to mention some foreigners who are working in Tokyo competing within the tight market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot to Cold , a recension


These guys, BIG, are a successful danish firm around the world. They are positive, and energetic, and most important they are winning competitions, which also means in our competitive world: many are losing against them in persuading customers.

The book, I just finished to read is a well explained showcase of their work. On youtube you can see their leader, Bjarke Ingels, talking about different projects , and you may want to save the money for the book. Also another interesting video about the latest tower in New York interviewed by a mayor American Channel streaming and other videos are pretty much covering their ideas in full length.

I liked the book for different reasons:

  1. It could be used as a handbook for visual presentation for University Students
  2. It shows how they did not waste their efforts, re-selling the concepts and adapting them to different customers
  3. It is an hymn to brave ideas.
  4. It is also shows how things can go wrong for great designers and that anybody should know that is the part of the job

On the Washington project (the buried museum on the mall) I have found emerging similarities with a Japanese leader architect mind, called Makoto Sei Watanabe, in his conceptual proposal, dated 2009 called ribbons. (From his official website there is also a wonderful video hidden on youtube)

This the main reason why I posting this on my blog. The Washington BIG project present an entrance create under a ribbon (some American may prefer canopy, or a series of canopies) and I see this concepts emerging more often that not, thus for the first time I will conclude this with a challenge to the reader and to myself.

In your next proposal whether a competition or a affluent client, try to design a ribbon, it might leverage your percentage of approval!

 

a nice facade for a Hospital, Kagayaki Plaza, by Kume Sekkei (久米設計)


kagayaki Hospital

finished in 2013, according to this article, during the Sakura week I was walking nearby.

It is interesting that with the Sakura excuse I was able to go in places where otherwise I would never step. This road was near the Budokan but just a turn that I never took before. (here the address 九段南1-6-10)

There was even a free shuttle to assist tourists…

and you know what, for the first time the people who tried to pass the lines were not Italians…I bet you know where they were from!

IMGP6615

a health hazard evaluation would have saved the kid


I thought for a while how to address the issue and I decided of approaching it with my experience, first.

The fact , for those who read this blog from abroad, is big. A 5 year old kid died during Design Week 2016 in a fire, triggered in a University Student Pavilion composition

The picture below show the stand two days before the accident.

td20016pavilion…when I first saw it I had immediately the feeling of danger. Professional feeling, developed during my whole life. On other pavilions this year I had the same sixth sense warning. There was womb-like pavilion, dark, and without an easy way out, very uncomfortable to be inside. Another one was

plenty of plastic balls, spinning around, nice…but safety prevention? none!

This is the object of this post.

When you are Architect, Designer, student you are interested in creating new things, smart, cool, effective, terrific, impressive…but you are not pushed to pursue safety. It is not requested to you.

This year tragedy may turn all the internet buzz and cool stuffs pictures a bit more toward the healthy process of designing safety “pavilions”. According my wife opinion, Tokyo Design Week risks to be cancelled forever.

To my knowledge, Japan is plenty of safeguard rules and warnings. There is a general good awareness of the risks, and for sure much higher than other countries, probably Italy included. Let`s think about earthquakes and tsunamis, and it is easy to see they are on regular basis been considered all along Japan history.

This situation is, despite that, not be well analyzed. TDW is a temporary exhibition, thus  it has not to follow the strict rules of a real estate developer. It is easy to understand to why. In Japan a normal developer of a building has to be organized in a way that construction risks are assessed by experience and consolidate workings on site, rules a part. Usually it is a developer  –  one big company – that take cares of all.

In Europe is different, big developer are not the main market in the building construction. They represent a small fraction of it.  A construction site, even a small one of a one family house would host at least a dozen of different sector enterprises: from the excavation land, to the roof assemblers trough plumbers, electrician, painters and so on. All are different company with different contracts. Everybody knows his own works but knows barely anything about the other. That is why it has been created the role of Safety Coordinator.]

That was my role for several years back in Italy. Somebody who can oversee and forecast the risk of the site. Also during the construction phase, which are the most dangerous, he has to be onsite on regular basis to check if everything is following the right path or not and take actions in case something is not going well.

Among his/her duties, risk assessment are the foundations of the job. I guess the TDW organization has not got any professional doing this job either because it is not request by the Japanese Law or either because they did not assessed the risk.