the underground path to the emperor Palace


I thought it would be nice to visit again the East garden of the emperor Palace in Tokyo. On my way to exit 13b of Ootemachi station wihch is poorest signaled coming from Marounochi line, I noticed quite renovation ongoing, probably following the Tokyo station mayor works.

The path and the quality of work was on primary level, probably work of major Japanese Companies who are tangled with landlords over there (Mitsubishi Jisho Sekkei?).

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On the right the stone, granite, is alternated on smooth and natural surface.

I underlined graphically the rhythm the path with thin red lines.

On the left, I used the blue thin lines, the different scheme of advertising screens. To note the refined touch on the ceiling where the two paths are detached and do not join each others.

At the end of the path, a nice full crystal elevator was an option to raise to the street level.

 

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Wood? where is it?…new Olympic stadium ongoing construction


Coming back to Japan and wanted to swim on along distance I went to the Tokyo Gymnasium who host a fantastic, open to all, 50 metre long swimming pool, clean and perfect as you may expect. (it is Sendagaya station for those interested)

Unfortunately the second time, was on Tuesday, and not checking the days off, I found it there. Strolling around the Gymnasium a creepy view was in the horizon, just behind the beautiful dome of the pool (designed by F.Maki by the way).

Olympic Stadium

Olympic Stadium 2017

if you recall the second competition, won by K.Kuma associated with Taisei Corporation and if I recall well Azuma architects, you may remember nice images full of wood an green. That is decoration, design intent. What is the core of the stadium you are seeing this picture: steel and concrete, and what else would might be?

Aside:

Finding that architect Maki designed the Gymnasium to me it is a reason more to understand why he was chief leader against the original winner project for the new Olympic stadium since your design would be outlaw by the new wave. The funny thing abou that is that always those who were at the beginning of their career the most unbiased it turn out to be the most conservative as the times passes to become a caricature of their own lost value.

 

A link of some “fantastic” they lost to give some money to the Steel and Concrete Japanese construction base moloch companies.

 

The rebirth of a city, L’Aquila, Italian interlude


I was curios to see what was going on, after 8 years from the big earthquake that devastated this City, in the middle of Italy located just 1 hour an half by car from Rome.

I have been gratified by a positive attitude that it is spread all over the citizens. A new mayor was just been elected. The center of the city is an enormous working in progress. I think from 5 to 10 per cent of the palaces are already been repaired accordingly to the new strict anti-seismic regulation. Churches would take longer of course but at least 50 per cent of the real estate goods are under active reparation.

I am sure that in 10 years L’ Aquila will show a full renovated historical centrum more beautiful than the state it was before the earthquake.

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A good point also can be made out of new seismical approach that has inundated the city. Not by coincidence at all, in 2009, just few months after the hit, the Law introducing new, more strict rules to consider the effect of seismic forces was introduced in Italy after a long deprecated procrastination under the conservative Italian forces such as building enterprises for instance. More than that, the 15.000 new houses built in less than year under the direction of the Civil Protection absolute power eventually force the Italians to take in consideration the seismic isolation mechanism so well known in Japan under the name of “Menshin”. The effect is touchable still today, the normal “aquilano” – the local citizen – is as informed as a structural engineer about construction mechanism and technologies that cannot be cheated at all.

The unexpected effect is that these days real estate values in L’Aquila are underestimated, because of the earthquake, where in reality they are far better re-built than in other part of Italy! If you zoom on the horizon you can count the number of cranes standing on the top of the centrum.

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One last input: An unnecessary suggestion to the mayor would be considering to give the outskirt a new urban approach especially where it seems it never had one. To get appeal toward the northern Europe future visitors some efforts must be addressed. Bicycle lanes, clear bus schedule and limitations of traffic speed with the passive dissuaders in critical points to name a few improvements I think L’Aquila deserves.

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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.

Toshima Gakuin High School, by Atsushi Kitagawara, 2001


ToshimaGakuin1I just got a bicycle. Nice new way to find interesting works here and there, where you have not any clue about them it is really surprising, and exciting. This is the sort of things you are expecting from Japan and not likely from other countries I guess.

This was on my way to a local library. It turned out to be an awarded architect with some reputation in Japan, not so much abroad.

Here his career on wikipedia. Mr. Aaron Betsky dedicated an article on him “The other Japanese Architecture”, here. and also a monography you can find online. The official architect website, here. Although it does not have an english version it has voices in double version Continue reading

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.

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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.