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.









House Vision 2016

I went yesterday, Saturday, the 27th to this wonderful exhibition.

Here some links of video I shot.

It closed on Sunday August 28th.


House nr. 9,here. Nippon Design Center, for Toppan Printing.


House nr. 1, here. Fumie Shibata for Yamato Holdings.


House nr.8, here. K.Kuma, Seijun Nishihata for Sumitomo Forestry.


The winner is, Jun Iagarashi and Taihi Fujimori with their Inside Out/Furniture room.

Really lovely, above all the others.  House nr.10,  here. for TOTO and YKK AP


IN total there were 12 houses, but not all of them were houses, like 8 and 11, were outdoor

places. nr4. an Office space by Bow Wow.

There is a book already onliune if you`d like to have everything collected. I bought it as a present to a friend in Italy.

Last, I think Kuma, with designing the whole exhibition and 3 years before the House vision 1, first gathering must be considered a leading figure into this productive, architectural environment.

(Also you can see other old posts on this blog about that exibihition, 1,        2,        3,       4,        5, )

So I will put a link to an interesting introduction to his japanese theory book, called defeated architecture, of a blogger also that seems to be one of his

teammates at the studio or just one of his student I do not know really. Here, His ore her name is Zhue, and the article is dated back 2009.

no picture just fuss about Zaha Hadid Olympic Stadium project being dumped

Some of the comments about the decision of the Tokyo Decisional Committe to dump the iconic and costly project of mrs Hadid, that I posted here and here, just miss the mark. I think the decision is on the Abe`s wave and it could not been much clearer. Even if japanese architects have some good points in their criticism, they should respect the Committe decision, which was leaded by T.Ando…one of the mayor architects of our time. I speak by knowledge, by loving and hating the town of Tokyo everyday. Here 99,9 % of new projects do not take in any consideration the surroundings…why they should blame Hadid for that?

Take it for granted that is a political decision, the comments should be political. Architects tend to consider themselves more important than what they really are…

Also I found this bad article about the works of Hadid and Gehry plenty of preposterous (yes it has been long time I wanted to use this english word) criticism. Architecture and arts reflect their time…is it so difficult to understand it?

Politically : really would you blame a Prime Minister who is struggling to restore a positive economic outlook to his country? And it seems he has found, on the ground of few economists when all the wall streeters were tagging him as insane, and his strategy as a losing strategy? And if his strategy entails an unconfessed negative bias for foreigners…?

…comment accepted, you are welcome.

My unmovable point is that the project is plenty of nice features even after the sized down and they are losing an Architectural opportunity, on the other side a new project, maybe is already there but they cannot say it…

Typically everybody would love to own and drive a Ferrari, but do you think are you entitled to it if your wallet let`s you buy just a wolkswagen? It looks what is happened there…

I add the architectural deepen link, just discovered by an insider in the Japan World. This is really a well documented assembly gathered in those days (October)

Omotesando Hills – Tadao Ando – a classic “aroma” for spending some Christmas moment

Despite this Ando`s work is not one of his best, it is in the central Area of Omotesando where several others cutting edge designer are proving their innovative ideas as I reported many times in this blog.
This work come from the nineties although it was finished only in 2005, here the wikipedia link.


Another source of information is this blog by a peruvian architect living in Japan. I am sure also there must be some books about this billionnaire construction. Despite this complex has a Luxury fame you feel yourself at ease without be an affluent since shops are for all ages and pockets.

The great thing is the smell, the parfume better said. I could not figure out where it came from, but I am sure it is intentionally spreaded in the air by the management, or even envisaged since the sketch. I liked a lot the railing details and the total view from the central ladder portrayed in the picture above.

Here below A splendid view from the Store upfront some months later (beginning of April). You can see also the apartments  on the higher floors and what seems a garden roof.



Alley House – Toshiaka Kishida Architects 石田敏明

Alley House - Toshiaka Kishida Architects
Since today it’s raining, I am publishing a little journey I did some days ago. I found this dwelling with shop at ground floor. Its name is SAK.

In Tokyo is not rare to see similar situations.

The owner’s profession is probably to repair and assembly bycicles.  The steel panels used as coating is something unusual for a house, and I bet they are expensive.

Thinking to the near railway is a choice that make sense here.

Width is clearly even, let’s say there is only 1.3 ~ 2.6m.

All floor together are 88mq.

One link o the architect  works.

another link to the architect

Tokyo Midtown and surroundings. National centre for the Arts

 Around eleven this morning we were at the park for children near Shinomachi, when it happened that the wind was strongly blowing, scattering dust everywhere so we decided to change our Sunday place.

 Since the Oedo line was there, I thought to go to Roppongi station where we could enjoy Tokyo Midtown and its interiors.

 Once arrived there first we went to the near National Centre for the Art. It is designed by Kisho Kurokawa (1934-2007) and it opened in 2007. It has got a gorgeous facade and balanced nice interiors as instead of decoratives objects has iconic shapes. See the reverse cone with a restaurant on its top?


Inside are at least three different galleries and four places for eat. IN the underground floor there is the Gallery shop and a cheap eat in.

At the 3f loor a French style brasseries, they also have a menu for 2000yen which is very low price here, of course you can spend much more ordering champagne and so on.

At the second floor a cafe (patisserie) called Vogue after the magazine.

The easiest is the ground floor, just an ordinary cafeteria in a extra-ordinary space that add to your time a high comfort I believe.

Today with that strong wind, even if it was not cold, I could say it was one of the best place in Tokyo for having your meal made at home.

 His office is well known for having projected several public projects around the world (even a new wing in the Van Gogh museum at Amsterdam) since the Metabolism movement, which it’s the most innovative architectural japanese wave during the modern time. 


That was just our “bento” place for today, we’ll be back there May the 18th when the California Design Exibihition will open freely. Than we moved to Tokyo Midtown, a huge complex, finished in 2007.

Tokyo Midtown is not a name of a part of the city of Tokyo, it consists in several buildings (the Ritz Carlton Hotel is the main tower then a residence tower – the east one – a mall, resaurants, museums – one designed by T. Ando, one designed by K.Kuma, a japanese garden…), and there’s even a book about it (the link opens the amazon reference).

I would add anything more than my pictures. And a note about the exterior.

Since they are very close, Tokyo Midtown is always compared to another huge investment made by Minatu Mori (recently passed), few years before (2003) called Roppongi Hills . The two changed the Tokyo Skyline and they are a reference for all the others large investments.

On my small view I can see, even if are only a four years gap there is more than a generation, architectural talking, among them

For instance, if we are looking the exterior.

 Roppongi Hills ( the web is plenty of pictures of it. I add just one here I took from the Tokyo National art centre to let the far reader recognize it). It is here below.


seems to belong to any megalopolis or metropolis around the world. It could be in London, New York, Toronto, Bejing, Sydney or everywhere, and the architect is American (Kohn Pedersen Fox based in New York City). The transparency of the coating is something that goes back to L. Mies Van der Rohe (1922 Friedrichstrasse skyscraper) until nowadays.

Tokyo Midtown, has a singular coating, and the architects have choosed to paint it as in the sametime leaving it transparent. I am posting some pictures here below on this detail.


 tmoutdoor      tmcoatingdetail2 tmcoatingdetail tmcoating2 tmcoating1 tmgallery1

tmgallery3tmgallery2 The picture of the insides are from the Gallery (Mall) and I would add other video in the future as well as some picture of the japanese gardentmoutdoorindoor

this aside is the Ritzl Carlton Hotel concierge or main lobby.ritzcarltonconcierge1


I shot a vide of a pathway at first floor that connectthe Garden to the inside Gallery of the Mall.

meguro around 目黒につして

meguro around 目黒につして
this is a shot of a high and very thin skyscraper I have found interesting. Just on the right of the Meguro mita line station. I was looking for a  office designed by Kleith Ditham I haven’t found…
Here below a house red brick-like form outside but I don’t think they’re real bricks, they look like more tiles for coating.

I found appealing the contrast between this red coating and the design, which is really japanese. The coating of the japanese buildings is something I would like to write about deeply sooner or later.
On the web I found this house was maden in 2004 but it was looking like they finished it yesterday. Unfortunately I do not know if the architect is well known I bet he is not.
If you want to look at it, I have found this link that says approximately 25-29 square metres for 108000yen a month…crazy TokyocasaSplan, but there are many others.

IMGP5669 I liked also the door. Sorry for the flash!