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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

Gunjin Kaikan, by Ryoichi Kawamoto, 1934


It was the time of Imperialistic style, the time of the euphemistic pan-asian sphere, even so, I like it.

dsc01201His position, gives this building a sort of mysterious aura. When you enter into the Park that surround the BudoKan, in the central area, you cannot miss it.

Here the complete story of the Building.

And here another shot of a detail that needs some attention before Olympic 2020!

dsc01197

I found also a guy/girl on flickr that posted a recent event. During the Tohoku earthquake (2011) a roof collapsed and sadly two people died. Since then it remained closed. This style of thirties was called Teikan Yoshiki

Architecture and Structuralism: the ordering of Space, Herman Hertzberger, Rotterdam, 2015, a review


The writer is also a University teacher (Delft  University) and an active architect (I am not sure he is still teaching though). He is over 8o. I found his name trough a recent project, and I decided to follow the path to see where it leads…

Totally amazed of the intensity of his thoughts, and sometimes in a full time agreement with his teories.

The book chapters, as to say index, is already a recension as reading carefully the titles one can imagine the content. The titles tell us a lot.

Introduction,

Structuralism and Architecture,

Open versus Closed Structures

The collective character of Structure

Interpretability

Architecture`s Unconscious Programme

Generic, Specific, and Polyvalent

Identity

Building Order

Construction Kits

Sustainability

Work in progress

.

Where I am totally in sintony:

“Innovations in architecture are not necessarily improvements but essentially are shifts in emphasis and, therefore, attention,. Besides changes that are difficult to explain there are constants that are equally inexplicable, such as the seemingly indestructible classicism. We see it cropping up wherever there is a need to express certainty , solidity, status and power, in one or other from remotely derived from Classical Antiquity with the quite arbitrary pretention of having eternal value. For the record, the basis of other styles of architecture as well as other collective modes of construction, whether or not religiously inspired,culturally determined or otherwisecommunally driven, generally speaking is every bit as arbitrary”[pg.186]

Also the chapter dedicated to Sustainability unveil some fictitious value related to green, and its prophets. It is truly a fervent pamphlet about the amount of lies that the term has been crammed.

Some chapters mark the link between his group origins, team 10, and the japanese metabolist movement of the sixties. The main value of his theory is how to design and address the space in between the pubblic and the private. A very soften regard leads the reader to understand why some choices are better than others. I would give 5 start just for this unique splendid and fully supported explanation.

The thoughts are explained to such a greater number of examples from the romans to Arles, the city of Lucca, Le Corbusier, and his mentor mr.Aldo Van Eyck another dutch architect that is convincing. Often Le Corbusier is cited both in positive and critic way. Structuralism has an interesting story that officially began with a scism inside the Functionalism, in 1959.

He may had not yet win the pritzker prize, but he does not need it.

 

 

Fragment MIB、unknown


It was interesting,I thought I have lost these shots.

FragmentMIBAlthough I am not a big fan of exposed conrete, I have to admit that this result is massive and well composed.

 

20150221_105216_002it is located in the surrounding of the notorius district of Ikebukuro