CULTURE

Columns and reports

November 20, 2018

Looking at Freespace through the Windows, Part 3

Vatican Pavilion (Holy See Pavilion)
Andrew Berman

Curators:
Francesco Dal Co (Architectural Historian, Professor at Istituto Universitario di Architettura Venezia, and Editor-in-Chief of CASABELLA), Micol Forti (Head of Modern and Contemporary Department of Vatican Museum)

Participating architects:
Norman Foster (UK), Terunobu Fujimori (Japan), Francesco Cellini (Italy), Andrew Berman (USA), Javier Corvalán Espinola (Paraguay), Flores & Prats (Spain), Carla Juaçaba (Brazil), Smiljan Radic (Chile), Eduardo Souto de Moura (Portugal), Sean Godsell (Australia), MAP Studio: Francesco Magnani and Traudy Pelzel (Italy)

 Floating across the canal from St. Markʼs Square is San Giorgio Maggiore Island, the greater part of which consists of a former monastery, as well as Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by Andrea Palladio. 

After Napoleon ordered the monastery to be closed in 806, the island was occupied by the military, lying in ruins until Count Vittorio Cini purchased it in 1951. The Giorgio Cini Foundation, established by the Count, aims to rebuild and restore this island as a cultural base, starting with the former monastery. With the 2012 opening of Le Stanze del Vetro, an exhibition space for glass-related works, and with the presentation of Hiroshi Sugimotoʼs Glass Tea House Mondrian in its front garden in 2014, the island is becoming a familiar destination for Biennale visitors. 

Vatican City, which has been participating as one of the national pavilions for the Venice Biennale since 2013, and which joined the International Architecture Exhibition for the first time this year, chose the forest in the back of Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore for this yearʼs location. President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi served as commissioner, and Francesco Dal Co and Micol Forti served as curators. Drawing inspiration from Gunnar Asplundʼs Woodland Chapel (1920), which was built inside the Woodland Cemetery (Skogskyrkogården), the show asks the architects to interpret and develop their own chapels. Venice-based MAP Studioʼs Asplund Pavilion, as well as follies by 10 pairs of architects titled Vatican Chapels, are scattered about the abundant forest. 

Andrew Bermanʼs chapel follows a triangular plan and features an opening with a porch overlooking Venice’s lagoon that provides seating for a few people. The interior at the backside of the porch is dark, with bright lights shining through incisions at its upper corners: a space allowing for introspection. Since the pre-Christian construction of the Pantheon to this day, the ubiquity of light passing through high windows has been inseparable from the sanctity of religious architecture. 

The light of 1,000 years ago, when monks devoted their prayers on this island, is the same light that shines down today from these corners, inviting one to look up at the sky from below.  

  • ©Akiko Tsukamoto (Window Research Institute)
    Translucent polycarbonate boards cover the wooden structure, which is painted in white. The interior uses plywood, painted in black. The building does not follow a specific style and is designed to blend in with the surrounding forest.
November 4, 2018

Looking at Freespace through the Windows, Part 2

The Arsenale
Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura

For Mexico-based architect Rozana Montiel, freespace indicates freeing space and actions, or a space for the act of placemaking. She describes architecture as “social construction,” saying: “Beauty is not a luxury, but a basic service that cannot be separated from need and function.”

The installation her studio developed for the Biennale titled Stand Ground is located in the Corderie, or a long colonnaded space that was once used to build ropes for tying up the ships of the Arsenale, which is the ruins of a state-owned shipyard from the Middle Ages. The once-vertical wall of the space is laid on the floor, as if to literally represent Montielʼ s philosophy of design—”change barriers into boundaries.” With the wallʼ s arched window also reproduced and laid on the floor, we view instead a projection showing footage of the outside worldʼ s vibrant everyday life. By breaking the wall vertically separating these spaces, Montiel merges the enclosed exhibition space and the view from its window; the usually vertical window, then, is turned into a flat surface that allows visitors to experience the strange sensation of walking beside it. The full-scale reproduction was built out of recycled Venetian bricks.

Montiel confronts how space changes through the process of creating architecture, and incorporates the following in her practice to create freespace that activates a given place:

1. Search content in context: work with community
2. Convert barriers into horizons: open communication
3. Transform the perception of space: use space creatively
4. Approach the landscape as a prerequisite: recycle existing infrastructure
5. Re-signify the materials: create a sense of place through texture
6. Work with temporality: respond to change in needs over time
7. Believe in beauty as a basic right

  • A live projection of the Venice Canals outside is displayed on the wall / Photo by Sandra Pereznieto
October 23, 2018

Vino Santo in Trentino

Drive a car east from Milan, go north through Verona and you will see the largest lake in Italy, Lake Garda. Continue running north along the lake and you will arrive in Trentino. This is a province located in Trentino-Alto Adige, at the border with Austria and Switzerland, so both Italian and German are recognized as official languages. Because much of Trentino features valleys lying in between small mountain ranges, the days remain cool even in summer. It is used as a summer resort not only from Italy, but also from neighboring countries, and you can see people enjoying touring and cycling.

For this second column, I would like to introduce the windows that make use of nature to help produce Trentinoʼs Vino Santo noble rot wine. Noble rot wine is a type of sweet dessert wine made by attaching the noble bacteria (Botrytis cinerea) for fermentation. The bacteria melts the wax layer that protects the surface of the grape and promotes the evaporation of moisture  from the fruit. By doing so, the sugar is condensed and a unique flavor can be produced. Noble rot wine is known as a luxurious wine due to its rarity. Generally speaking, it is fermented in vineyards——Trentino Vino Santo, however, is fermented in the attic room. This special production method makes the flavor very mellow.

  • Trentino valley between the slightly elevated mountains
October 15, 2018

Kibber, India : The Hidden Hole (part 2)

It was cold in the morning so high above sea level.
But when I walked out to the third-floor terrace at my inn, I found it surprisingly warm. Yes, the temperature was low, but it nearly felt hot standing there under the sun. In fact, so much sunlight poured down on me that it practically hurt. I recalled all the Tibetans with their noses and the tops of their cheeks sunburned black, faces that told of lives lived high above sea level, close to the sun. When I looked out at the terraces where Darchogs (the five-colored flags of Tibetan Buddhism) flew, I could see many scenes of life in the village of Kibber.

  • The third-floor terrace of an inn
October 3, 2018

Part 3 Shokatei at Katsura Imperial Villa

Members of the Imperial Family were the first to enjoy the luxury of tea, a valuable item at that time, before the art of the tea ceremony was established by Rikyu. They built tearooms called kizoku-gonomi (designed by “kizoku” or the Imperial Family members) often in the soan (rustic house) style and form. These structures give rustic impressions of the soan style at a glance, but closer observation shows that they were designed in refined and elegant ways. Technically speaking, many of them were not designed as “chasitsu” (tearoom) but as “chaya” (teahouse) or more unrestricted structures, and therefore often given names ending with “tei” (gazebo or pavilion without walls). Members of the Imperial Family were the first to enjoy the luxury of tea, a valuable item at that time, before the art of the tea ceremony was established by Rikyu. They built tearooms called kizoku-gonomi (designed by “kizoku” or the Imperial Family members) often in the soan (rustic house) style and form. These structures give rustic impressions of the soan style at a glance, but closer observation shows that they were designed in refined and elegant ways. Technically speaking, many of them were not designed as “chasitsu” (tearoom) but as “chaya” (teahouse) or more unrestricted structures, and therefore often given names ending with “tei” (gazebo or pavilion without walls).

Shokatei[1] at Katsura Imperial Villa[2]

Part 3 discusses Shokatei at Katsura Imperial Villa. The Katsura Imperial Villa site is dotted with four famous chaya respectively designed to celebrate specific seasons: Gepparo for autumn, Shokin-tei for winter, Shokatei for spring, and Shoiken for summer.
Shokatei, the subject of this essay, is a chaya-type structure situated on a mound made of excavated soil from a pond construction. It is a pavilion consisting of a 2-ken (3.6m) wide and 1.5-ken (2.7m) deep space with an earth floor surrounded by a bench-like raised tatami floor along three sides, forming a C-shape.
The north facade of Shokatei is completely open without any wall. It is covered only with a noren (a kind of curtain with vertical slits hung under the eaves) and offers a panoramic view toward the pond. The remaining three facades have large windows, and this open structure naturally blends into the surrounding greenery.

September 7, 2018

Looking at Freespace through the Windows, Part 1

The 16th Venice Architecture Biennale is currently open from Saturday, May 26 to Sunday, November 25, 2018 in Venice, Italy. Appointed Directors Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, who head Grafton Architects based in Dublin, Ireland, selected Freespace as its overarching theme.

Grafton Architects have designed many buildings of a highly public nature, starting with university facilities such as Universita Luigi Bocconiʼs School of Economics, UTEC Limaʼs university campus, and Université Toulouse 1 Capitoleʼs School of Economics, which is currently under construction. They won the Silver Lion at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale for Architecture as New Geography, which exhibited a practice viewing architecture as a “built geography” that takes part in restructuring the landscape, and centers on dialogues with geographical and cultural characteristics particular to the site as their starting points.

For the Biennale, they hope to unravel the diversity, specificity, and trends within architecture by having the national pavilions and participating architects present their own ideas on Freespace.

Of the many exhibited projects, we will introduce works related to windows; perhaps the national pavilions or exhibits themselves can be thought of as windows into their respective “freespaces.”

 

Central Pavilion

As the title The facade is the window to the soul of architecture indicates, the central pavilion presents an antithesis to the fact that the facade has long been excluded from architectural discourse. It is a statement that rings all the more true when backed by Caruso St John Architectsʼ years of experience. Elevations of their architectural work, as well as photographs of facades that have influenced the architects (Photo by Philip Heckhausen), are displayed one above another on the wall. The exhibition gives a glimpse into Caruso St John Architectsʼ beliefs and architectural methodology, which pay respect to history and arrive at designs that blend with the existing surrounding architecture.

For example, an elevation of Newport Street Gallery, which was completed in London in 2015 and is known as the gallery where artist Damien Hirst displays his personal art collection, is shown above photographs of Via Daniele Manin in Milan and Newport Street in London. At Newport Street Gallery, two newly constructed contemporary buildings at either end flank three Victorian buildings that were built as carpentry and scenery workshops in 1913, during the golden age of theatre. These new buildings are also made with a hard, pale red brick that characterizes Victorian architecture (1837-1901) and connects the facades together. The five buildings maintain both their unique qualities and similarities, and together they create a striking impression as a city block.

The architecture of Victorian warehouses (1837 – 1901) also symbolizes the height of the UKʼs economic development during the Industrial Revolution; Caruso St John Architects says, “Good buildings…can accommodate new uses over time, and while programme can be fleeting, it is the physical presence and the image of these buildings that underpin the formation of great cities..”

August 10, 2018

Part 2: Jo-an

It seems reasonable to assume that chanoyu, or the Japanese “Way of Tea” established by Sen no Rikyu, was spread and led by sengoku busho or warlords. It is clearly explained by the fact that all of Rikyu’s seven sages were warlords.
During this time, chanoyu was widely practiced by warlords probably because they needed tranquil places and time to clear their minds and concentrate on tea ceremony, in order to momentarily forget about the turbulent period. What kind of tea rooms, as well as their windows, did warlords build, while constantly living with the fear of death?

 

 

Jo-an

Part 2 discusses Jo-an, one of the National Treasure tea houses. Jo-an is a small-sized tea room, specifically a nijohan-daime (a two-and-a half plus three-quarters tatami-sized room) mukougiri (one of different placements for locating ro, or a sunken hearth, where ro is cut into the inner edge of the host’s tatami mat at the far corner adjacent to the guest’s tatami mat. See Notes 1) tea room built by warlord Uraku (Nagamasa) Oda, which may be said to be the completely opposite type of tea room from Tai-an built by Rikyu. Uraku Oda, the youngest brother of the famous warlord Nobunaga Oda, was a warrior who lived through the Sengoku era (the age of warring states) as well as a tea master who lived in the same time as Rikyu and recognized as one of his ten sages.

Jo-an was originally built at Shoden-in at Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto. It was relocated to Hachiroemon Mitsui’s main residence in the Meiji Period, and to his second residence in Oiso, Kanagawa Prefecture in the early Showa Period. Currently, it is located at Uraku-en Garden at the foot of Inuyama Castle, Aichi Prefecture.

Seating oneself in Jo-an, one notices Uraku’s genius at once. One cannot help admiring his talent and thinking of his blood ties with Nobunaga, the powerful ruler of the warring states.

July 18, 2018

You Make a Better Window Than a Door

Fenestration Observations is a series of window disquisitions by Matthew Fargo. In it, the translator of Akasegawa Genpeiʼs Hyperart Thomasson probes the city for hidden and forgotten features of the fenestral landscape. Join him on his hunt for windows that, seen in a particular light—from a particular and tangential vantage—become accidental works of art.
In this first installation, Fargo conducts an observation on a window from an industrial building in San Francisco.

June 19, 2018

Garlic Window in Vessalico village

Lemon raised under the shining sun; cured ham aged in a rich flavor by growing mold; wine made from grapes raised under well-ventilated pergola. We can see architectures particular to each region within these charming food production scenes. Surely, Italian food is born from the relations between architecture and local climates and geography.

With this in mind, I spent a year from February 2016 in Italy researching food and architecture. The subjects of this investigation were groups producing traditional foods protected by Slow Food.

The Slow Food movement was started by Carlo Petrini, a journalist of wine and food, who feared that the Italian food culture would be lost after a McDonald’s opened in “Piazza di Spagna” in Rome in 1986. In the first page of his book, Petrini explains that because gastronomes (gourmets) have sharpened sensitivity and good taste, they are able to consider how food is made. Slow Food is concerned that traditional and regional foods are being lost due to the rise of fast food and globalization. They are therefore protecting traditional and regional foods by marking them with the Slow Food logo and distributing them to markets, as well as creating networks between producers, cooks and consumers.

The wines, cheeses, cured hams, fruits and vegetables that I researched are all registered with Slow Food, and are produced through the utilization of the natural conditions of local climates and geographies—light, heat, wind, humidity, etc. In this series, I want to trace the relationships between the taste of traditional foods registered with Slow Food and the window as an architectural element that utilizes the natural environment around us.

 

In this article, I will introduce the window related to the production of garlic in Vessalico village located in the north of Italy.

June 15, 2018

Kinnaur District, North India: The Overhanging Village (Part 3)

I walked back to the home in the small village in order to pick up the pants that had been sewn for me overnight. It seemed that there, the mother wove fabric from wool while the father turned that material into pants. Their jobs were divided as though they were a couple from an old folk story. They said that the younger man I’d met earlier left the area for an outlet in a larger town where he was selling finished pairs of pants.

  • The exterior of the “Pants Home”
May 17, 2018

Part 1: Tai-an at Myoki-an Temple

  Chashitsu or the Japanese tea room was a unique architecture that was built without any expressive ornaments at a time when rich ornamentation was a general trend in architecture. While its main protagonist is tea itself, it is designed in such a way that guests can enjoy sitting there during a four-hour duration by providing various ingenious design elements subtly concealed in the space. This serial article focuses on and discusses characteristics of tea room windows that brought about dramatic changes in Japanese architecture.

 

 

Tai-an at Myoki-an Temple

Part 1 focuses on the Tai-an at the Myoki-an Temple, one of the National Treasures in Japan. The Tai-an is a two tatami-sized corner hearth-style tea room designed by Sen no Rikyu and recognized as the oldest existing tea room in Japan. It is considered as one of the most important existing tea rooms, because it is the origin of the Japanese tea room and the subsequent evolution would not have occurred without it.

April 19, 2018

Kinnaur District, North India: The Overhanging Village (Part 2)

Many valley-side settlements located 2-3,000 meters above sea level can be found in the district of Kinnaur. Busses run daily even here in the mountains of North India, a part of the world surely once thought of as unexplored. We now live in an age where it’s surprisingly easy to travel to these villages, so long as you can put up with the bus’s swaying (though the shaking is quite bad).

  • The Valley-Side Town of Sangla
December 7, 2017

The Red Earthenware Bowl: Eastern Tibet, Ser thar, Part 2

I descended to the center of Larung Gar, where it seemed a lecture or assembly had just ended, as priests were entering and leaving the building one after another. The sight of people wearing the same colored surplices getting sucked into the center of the space, and then dispersed into the surrounding areas was fascinating to me, since it seemed like a rhythm to life that matched the bowl-like topography perfectly.

  • Priests gathering together in the temple at the center of town. Their clothing was the same color as the buildings.
November 15, 2017

Part 3: Apertures for Walking Through

One way to use an aperture is to pass physical things through it. In most cases apertures are installed at the border between an inside space and outside space. Through them people and things go in and out. When a space that was closed off is opened up and the inside and outside spaces are connected, everything changes. For example, many different kinds of stimulation from the outside such as fresh air comes flowing in, birdsong and the sound of waves can be heard, and you can smell the fragrant scent of flowers from outside when an aperture is opened. Conversely, people at times erase the border between the two spaces by bringing their activities outside. Examples of this are when people eat, read, or play musical instruments outside.

The apertures I will introduce in this article are ones that seamlessly link inside and outside spaces when they are opened, and are made for the purpose of allowing people to go in and out through them. Glass, with its translucence, plays a big role in these cases by visually erasing the border between inside and outside, or linking them together.

1.Residence

This residence, a major characteristic of which is the stretch of large windows that run along the wall facing the garden, is called Kokfelt House, and was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1957. You can go in and out of the building by opening and closing the sliding and hinged glass door. The living room is a level above, and you can step outside to a wooden deck from there to gaze out at the sea. You can go out to the deck from each of the rooms on the upper floor, and you can descend to the garden from the deck with a set of stairs as well. One can imagine that they held garden parties and barbeques on the green lawn.

In Denmark at the end of the 1950ʼs many similar residences were built. Halldor Gunnløgssonʼs Own House (built in 1958) and Poul Kjærholmʼs Own House (built in 1963) are well known to use Japanese traditional architecture as references, but Jacobsen, who was always ahead of his time, integrated sliding doors and a garden facing deck into his residence even earlier than those two.

Not only in Denmark but also in other European countries the concept of sliding doors had yet to be invented. The Japanese fusuma, which allowed one to open up or close up a space flexibly, was a fresh, new idea for them. Many considered them modern and functional, and after the war they became quite fashionable. At the root of this phenomenon was the Japanese magazine “The Japan Architect,” which was published abroad in June of 1956 in English, providing many more opportunities for people to see sliding doors. A deck from which one might appreciate a garden can be accessed when sliding doors are opened, creating a buffer zone, or a “between space” so to say, that connects the inside and outside spaces.

October 18, 2017

Part 2: Apertures for View

Apertures have many purposes of uses. They are used as light sources, as ventilation, and as portals through which people pass. In each of these examples, they are opened to allow some physical thing to pass through them. However, apertures do exist for different purposes. Windows that use the translucency of glass in order to provide a line of sight to the outside from the inside, in other words, apertures that have been installed to allow one to enjoy the scenery, are one such example. Since they are not intended to be physically opened or closed, some of them are fixed windows.

1.”Windows that frame” – Cropping the View

1-1. Art Museum

If someone ask me, “What is your favorite art museum in the world?” I will no doubt answer “The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.” One of my favorite spaces in this museum is this exhibit room. The position of Giacomettiʼs sculpture never changes. What do change are the pictures on the walls and the scenery over the window. The view is framed so that it is just like a gigantic painting. Depending on the season, time of day, or weather, the scenery changes so that no matter when you go, it moves you and brings you joy. The “Walking Man”(Giacomettiʼs sculpture) is frozen in time for all eternity, but the scenery behind him is constantly changing.

September 20, 2017

Part 1: Apertures for Light

Fleeting and weak though it is, light in Scandinavia has a mysterious kind of allure to it. Could it not be that the peoples of Scandinavia worship the light of the sun precisely because it fades so easily?

I lived in Denmark for two years, from 2006 to 2008. Living there, I was surprised to find that most houses did not have curtains in their windows. People didnʼt seem to mind even if the inside of their houses were completely visible from the outside. Rather, they would decorate their windowsills with flowers or figurines and display their interior design with pride. That said, the most important purpose of this set up was to allow as much light as possible into the house.

July 19, 2017

Memories of a Skylight: Tashqurqan Part 3

The following morning when I arrived at Classyʼs house at the scheduled time, we met with another man who seemed to be about the same age as Classy. After finishing a cigarette the three of us left the house.

We arrived at a stone house covered with an ocher mud much like Classyʼs. There were people of all ages and both sexes all wearing decorative clothing, and the atmosphere was such that it seemed as if a festival were about to begin.

After being invited into the house, I found that people were gathered in the central room which I have often referred to (in this house pink was the base color), and in the back of the room a man and a woman were sitting dressed in the most ostentatious clothing of them all. I realized after noticing that everyone was surrounding the couple that I had been invited to a Tajiki wedding. I was surprised that a Japanese man like myself who had just been met the previous day had been invited to a wedding in the community, but there really is no better opportunity to observe the way they used the home than at such an event. The corner in which the newlyweds sat was hidden by a pink lace cloth, creating an only partially visible space.

June 28, 2017

Memories of a Skylight: Tashqurqan Part 2

After driving for about 7 minutes in Classyʼs car, the windshield of which had a crack in it, we arrived at a wetland area that was completely different from the field of rape blossoms I mentioned before. A river cut through the center of the thick, silky fields.

A portion of it was open to tourists as a scenic area, and though I did not see anyone who appeared to be a tourist, there were walkways, rest areas, and other such things, so that it was just like Oze Hiking Route. I walked along after Classy towards the back of the wetlands.

  • Walking through the thick wetlands
April 19, 2017

A Desert below Sea Level — Turpan, Part 3

What I learned from these grape-drying huts was that the key to a dwelling in a desert below sea level was creating shadows by bricks, poplar, and a few branches and leaves as well as ventilating the room.

I visited seven Uyghur settlements while in Turpan. I have marked the locations of six out of those seven settlements and the aforementioned grape-drying huts in the map below. It seemed as if there were many people from the Han clan located in the center of the city adorned with grid-like wide roads while the Uyghur settlements were located in the surrounding green areas.

  • Locations of the houses visited (Plotted by the author on Google Earth)
March 22, 2017

A Desert Below Sea Level—Turpan, Part 2

I came across a group of grape-drying huts on a hill just off the settlement. These huts I had seen the day I arrived in Turpan while taking a bus to my nearby accommodations some 10 hours after an exhausting train ride. On a hill under a harsh morning sun, those perforated buildings all faced in the same direction, attracting my sleepy eyes.

Cutting through the Uyghur settlements Iʼm heading to that bald hill lined with huts. Most of those huts, lined neatly on an incline, are made of sun-dried bricks. The huts have the same color as the hill they are standing on. A hill transformed into huts through water and sun. Some huts used burned bricks while some were empty lots whose foundation is all that remains.

  • Grape-drying huts. The transformation of a hill through water and sun
January 5, 2017

Zhangcun: The Needs of the Underground Part 2

Iʼve come to realize that meeting with elders is the best way to learn about their village. Walking through a loess land of beautiful green trees, I continued to develop this method Iʼve worked on throughout my journeys. Suddenly I came upon an older woman putting a handkerchief on her head while resting in the shade of a tree.

Does she live in a yaodong? Either way, I tried to communicate to her that Iʼm interested in architecture by showing my sketches. Naturally, I could hardly communicate with her in Chinese.

It seems I managed to get my intention across after a few minutes of struggling. She took me to her nearby yaodong, indeed her place of residence. There was a small hole serving as entrance to her underground cave located some distance away from a square hole in a courtyard. Because she had a bad knee, she guided me to her dwelling while leaning on a walking cane.

  • Approach yaodong
November 8, 2016

Houses beyond the Places of Scenic Beauty (2)

Repeating myself the phrase “your house” in Chinese, the old man and I walked for about 40 minutes through a town located outside of the scenic area. I saw a construction site for some new, large building and walked along unpaved narrow streets; I saw scenes from daily live different from tourist sites. We finally arrived at what seemed to be the old manʼs home. (Only later did I realize I had mistaken the phrase “your house” all along.)

The house was a closed-off, flat building with walls of painted white brick. The tiles of the roof was similar to the ones I saw in the scenic area, and upon closer inspection, the manner in which they were stacked also looked alike. Despite being located outside of the scenic area it seemed they had something in common. Nearby there were numerous buildings of a similar fashion, as if many of the buildings were constructed in one shot.

  • The old manʼs home (front)
September 21, 2016

Shanghai, Bars of Iron Sprouting from Windows (2)

My steps become lighter now that Iʼve decided what Iʼll look for. This is the beginning of a trip to search for bars of iron. Ten steps out and I find what Iʼm looking for. Immediately I discover a housing complex with countless iron bars sprouting from it. Iʼm a little concerned that those bars might fall onto the few cars parked directly under them.

  • Cars parked under numerous iron bars.
September 6, 2016

Tove Jansson’s Window

Photographer Takashi Homma introduces some compelling windows spliced between his own photos and text. Part 1 of this series delivers five photos – one of which is never before seen – plus an exclusive sketch from Hommaʼs latest photo collection, A song for windows, which pays homage to author Tove Jansson.

This lodge is located on a small island among a group of islands just off the coast of Finland; it is also where Tove Jansson, author of the famous Moomin series, spent her summers for more than twenty years. The uninhabited island can be circled by foot in about 7 minutes; the lodge is 4 m in length with a diameter 5.45 m. It is 2.2 m high.

June 29, 2016

The Maniac Behind The Glasshouse

Kew Gardens is a botanical research institution situated in southwest London, and is home to the world’s largest collection of living plants. Even though I can still recall the many occasions upon which I have visited the Gardens as a child, I realised that I had not yet had a chance to fully understand it from an architectural point of view. And so, I recently revisited the beautiful site to fulfill this modest wish of mine.

March 8, 2016

Into the Depth of the Window

The end of summer time, like the morning air which feels more and more crisp as the days go by, is one of those things that remind me of the coming of the long winter season. This “summer time” is a system that has been adopted in most European countries, where the clock is set forward by one hour during summer months. The idea of British Summer Time was first proposed at the beginning of the 19th century by an English construction entrepreneur, William Willett. He was convinced that sunlight was being put to waste, when early one morning as he enjoyed riding, he noticed that the entire town still remained asleep with all the shutters closed, even though it had already been hours since sunrise. He later came to publish a pamphlet titled “The Waste of Daylight”, and throughout his life continued to advocate the benefits of utilising sunlight by means of adjustment of national time. However, it was only in 1916 that the system was officially introduced, when the First World War broke out and resource had become a serious concern for the government. At the time, the primary aim of the system was to cut back on the consumption of coal.

  • Hyde Park in the autumn season. In summer, many people can be seen sunbathing on the grass.
December 21, 2015

fear and pleasure, and as theater

The city of Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements. First arrondissement including the Louvre Museum is located approximately at the center of Paris. From there, the arrondissemens are numbered in a clockwise spiral, ending at  the eastern part of Paris.Among the 20 arrondissements, I started my architectural career in Paris at a university of the Belleville district. This district is located on the second-highest hill next to Montmartre and is always  vibrant as an immigration district today. There are cheap bars where students gather, and shops run by mainly Chinese or North African people. A lot of Eastern European people are living there. For this reason, I feel a different type of bustle and smell from that of the center of Paris throughout the day. At the top of the hill of Belleville Street, there is a Belleville park having a panoramic view of Paris. Since the view of Paris from the park was beautiful, the name of this district began to be called ‘Belle ville‘ (beautiful town).

  • Arrondissements of Paris.
October 5, 2015

Before Being Maiko Kurogouchi of mame

The sound of air spewing out from the A/C grew louder and then fainter; the second hand of the clock on the wall resounded overdramatically as it dutifully ticked out the seconds one after another. From the window I could see browning mountain ridges and chimney smoke drifting by from some unknown source. I returned my gaze back inside the room, only to turn my eyes back outside again, but by then there was no longer any sign of the smoke.

She is always abrupt. On any day she might suddenly post onto social media a scene that seems to correctly encapsulate all the worldʼs beauty. And from that I will learn that she has set out on yet another creative journey.

“Windows”—every one of them that she has captured during her travels appears to brim with pathos. This may be because she took them in the winter. Or because she caught a cold. Or because I am no longer by her side.

These are accounts from my trip with her through a still snowy Tohoku, travel memories that colored the days before and after, and tracings from the 10-plus years that we spent together.

September 17, 2015

Tracing the urban brickscape

As surprising as it may seem, I feel that the true quality of a city such as London lies in its “disorderliness”. Within the city, countless elements with various historical backgrounds coexist; their territories constantly overlapping each other. For instance, a single building is likely to have undergone multiple phases of reconstruction and extension in its lifetime, and it is never easy to distinguish the boundaries between the old and the new. Taking a step back and observing the city from a further distance, it is evident that the streets do not have a basic logic in their compositions. This is due to the fact that historically London has lacked an overall urban planning scheme, and as a result the streets form an almost organic network by sequentially linking one place to the next, rather than employing a strict geometrical pattern.

Strolling through the labyrinthine Georgian streets in the City of London, whilst the tall skyscrapers soar high above my head, I am able to enjoy a kind of pleasant disharmony. The image of this city seems to be formed by a sequence -an uncoordinated continuity of individual elements with ambiguous boundaries. It is only understandable that this city is often described as a collection of villages.

  • Old and new coexist in the streetscape
September 17, 2015

la fenêtre à la française

Six years have passed since I arrived in Paris. Although my daily life has been changing and evolving every moment, Paris has kept the skyline since it has been built. The scenery of the small windows through the walls on the other side of the Seine River and the street havenʼt changed their position since long before I arrived here. The busy traffic through the window has been unnaturally the same since the first day.

In the history and culture of the city of Paris, there is no doubt that the window has existed as a symbol and is an important part of the building. Meanwhile, it is well known that most of the things that happen around windows are everyday things or just slight changes in Paris.

What are the windows of Paris? I am not yet ready to straightforwardly provide an answer to explain the essence of the windows. I do not know whether the answer really exists. Anyway, in order to advance this question, I try to open up various cross-sections of the windows of Paris one by one. I expect to clarify the windows of Paris and aim to approach them.

April 1, 2015

Window Bookcase (2)

This is the second entry on the Window Bookcase Project. We at the Window Research Institute asked o+h, the architectural practice of Maki Onishi and Yuki Hyakuda, to produce a furniture piece that can be used for holding a traveling exhibition of books in small bookstores and galleries across the country. The concept for the piece is “a bookcase like a small building”. o+h present their ideas for the design in this entry.

 

Onishi: Today we will be showing our ideas through models. These are still in the making, but they are the two schemes that we are designing: the folding screen scheme, which unfolds to define spaces, and the building scheme.

March 18, 2015

Giving Color to Windows

Textile coordinator/designer Yoko Ando has been directing how textiles are used around windows in the work of many architects both young and old. Spaces can be enriched by adding color to their windows. Ando invites us to think about the significance of giving color to windows by showing us some of her past work.

  • SUS Corporation Fukushima Factory Dormitory, 2005
    (work done while at NUNO Corporation).
    Design: Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects. Photo: Daici Ano.
March 9, 2015

The Windows of the Teien Art Museum

Sumally is a social networking service that has been created from the concept of making “an ʻencyclopediaʼ for everything that exists in the world” by categorizing things into the two categories of “Want” and “Have”. Kensuke Yamamoto, founder and CEO of Sumally, was formally an editor of a fashion/culture magazine. Still never one to miss out on an opportunity to experience the latest cultural trends, Yamamoto made a visit to the newly refurbished Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, which reopened in November 2014. Here he shares his thoughts on the relationships that the Art Deco-style building creates between windows and light.

December 17, 2014

Window Bookcase (1)

This project started when we commissioned o+h, the young wife-and-husband team of architects Maki Onishi and Yuki Hyakuda, to design a bookcase for us. This is the first article in a series of entries that will be documenting the making of the bookcase until its completion.

 

Please make a bookcase like a small building…!

In 2007, we at the Window Research Institute initiated our Windowology studies, a research program focused on windows that is grounded in our philosophy: “The window is a product of civilization. Windows embody culture.” We have now published five books domestically and three books overseas as products of our research.

The section for architecture books where these books are shelved in bookstores is generally considered to be an area full of serious books on engineering. This impression that people hold of it as a very academic section has stood as an obstacle to our wish to have many people read our books.

We need to devise something that will make people from children to adults want to pick up our books. But who would be the best partner for us to work with to give shape to this project? After careful consideration, we have commissioned the project to o+h, the architectural practice of Maki Onishi and Yuki Hyakuda.

  • Double-Helix House (Japan, 2011)