Columns and reports

October 22, 2021

Windows of the Prouvé House
|Jean Prouvé’s Windows #2

The Prouvé House is an intriguing example of a building that was made by piecing together leftover parts from past projects. In the second article of this series, Shin Yokoo examines how Prouvé incorporated ideas from his earlier work into his home and breaks down the designs of the windows that are unique to this project.


Was Prouvé an Architect?

Jean Prouvé was an autodidact in architecture and was never formally licensed as an architect in France. This was part of the story behind why he always collaborated with other architects. Moreover, his wide-ranging collaborations on works from furniture to architecture led to further blurring his classification as an architect or structural engineer. He has hence been labeled in a variety of ways. Most famously, Le Corbusier wrote about him as follows in Modulor II: “And here is M. Jean Prouvé who represents, in a singularly eloquent manner, the type of the ʻconstructorʼ—a social grade—not yet accepted by law but actively wanted by the era in which we live.”1   Reiko Hayama, a Japanese architect who worked for Prouvé, also translates the word “constructor” using the neologism “kōchikuka” (構築家, constructor), as opposed to “kōzoka” (構造家, structural engineer) or “kenchikuka” (建築家, architect), in Kōchiku no hito, Jan Purūve [original title in French: Jean Prouvé: Par Lui-Même]. Kenneth Frampton, who was early to point out the progressiveness of Prouvéʼs work, refers to him as an “artisan/engineer” in Modern Architecture.2  However he may be described, there was only one building project that Prouvé planned, designed, and constructed on his own in the manner of a true architect during his lifetime: the Prouvé House (French: Maison de Jean Prouvé), his private residence in Nancy. As it happened, he undertook the project immediately following his departure from what was his personal factory and the base of his creative activities.


March 16, 2021

The Smile Sealed Inside a Bubble—Natsume Soseki’s Inside Glass Doors

Natsume Soseki composed Inside Glass Doors at the end of his life. From inside his room, the “I” of these essays watches the days go by, meditating over visions of the past. Toshiyuki Horie, writer and scholar of French literature, unpacks the curious nature of these literary sketches. Among the major figures of Japanese literature, Horie is best known outside Japan for The Bear and the Paving Stone, which has been translated into English. An admirer of Soseki and the author of the book of essays Wandering Windows, Horie offers an alluring treatment of how “Soseki and windows” intersect.


In middle school or maybe high school, I had my first encounter with a photograph of Natsume Sosekiʼs study, printed in a handbook that accompanied my textbook for language class. It was a picture of his writing quarters in the Tokyo neighborhood of Waseda Minamicho. On account of being black and white, the true colors are a mystery, but a small, low writing desk is visible in the foreground, laden with manuscript paper, brushes, and dictionaries, behind which he sits on a plaid zabuton, with a giant brazier to his right, holding a substantial teapot that looks to have been cast. Foremost, I was fascinated by the tidy mountain range of books piled behind him. The books he was using, may use soon, or was hoping to reread formed a modest colonnade of knowledge, with no end in sight, and linking with the books stacked in the bookshelves to the rear along the wall, suggestive of a beautiful work routine. A clean desk with plenty of light, the ideal work environment.

Soseki moved into the house that had this study in September 1907, about six months after he had joined the staff of the Asahi Shimbun in the peculiar capacity of salaried fiction writer, and soon after completing The Poppy, his first novel for the paper. This is the study where Soseki wrote book after book, while suffering chronic stomach pains, until his death in 1916 at the age of 49, midway through the serialization of Light and Darkness. He used the neighboring living room to host guests at literary salons every week, granting these two rooms the status of undisputed holy sites among his readers, but given that the living room was a washitsu, floored with tatami mats, I had always assumed, from the low desk and the brazier, not to mention the author dressed in a kimono, that the study was tatami, too.

December 18, 2019

Casement Window

Casement windows open by rotating horizontally to the left and right from the center, taking either the left or right edge as an axis. Some open into the interior, while others open onto the exterior. Both the left and right panels have the same dimensions: those that only open in one direction are called dual casement, while those where one side is larger than the other are called oyako-biraki (“parent-and-child”). The ones opening in only one direction used in France since the 16th century are known as French windows.

January 12, 2022

Issue 3: Where the Pavilions Went : Orchid Island (Part 2)

I left the village of Yeyin and took a trip around the island. Going on the road made me conscious of being in another land, but in a different way from mainland Taiwan, whether I encountered a pack of goats who looked down on the people from high on the craggy mountains or found what seemed to be a holy site of the Tao people in a rocky opening. Seeing the rocks painted with crosses at this holy site reminded me that many of Taiwan’s native inhabitants were Christian. I’d known that Spanish and Dutch missionaries had spread Christianity across Taiwan from as early as the 17th century, but something felt overwhelming about the sight of their faith that had traveled all the way to this rough and rocky opening in a tropical island floating on the Pacific Sea.

I climbed a hill in order to get a view of the whole island from a meteorological observatory on top of a mountain. Before I reached the summit, I looked down on Yeyin, where I had just been, and I was shocked. Lined up next to the dark village filled with underground houses was another village of a similar size made of concrete. These were the “cement houses” (concrete houses) where the younger generation on Orchid Island normally lived, including the Tao woman who’d shown me around. This generation that had escaped from the “underground houses” had drawn a clear line between themselves and their former village as they built one pastel house after the next nearby.

  • The old and new villages lined up next to one another
December 9, 2021

Terunobu Fujimori|
001: The Advent of Magical Light-Transmitting Surfaces, Glass Doors of the Hirano Residence

In this series, architectural historian and architect Terunobu Fujimori, who has traveled extensively to study buildings of various times and places, will be introducing a selection of notably intriguing windows found in historic buildings from all across Japan, one at a time. First on the list are the glass doors (garasudo) of the Hirano Residence designed by Katsuya Yasuoka, who built his name as a house designer during the Meiji to early Showa era (early to mid-20th century). While such doors are now a staple feature of Japanese-style houses, those of this house were among the earliest to be used.


Anyone, whether from Japan or elsewhere in the world, will undoubtedly think of glass rather than frames or curtains when they hear the word “window”.However, it took a long, long time from when glazed windows first appeared in ancient Rome for this to become true in Japan, for although Japanese people were familiar with glass used in crafts, they had neither the knowledge nor technology necessary to produce plate glass for use in windows. It was only amid Japanʼs increased interactions with the great Western powers during the late years of the Tokugawa shogunateʼs rule (1603–1868) that window glass was finally brought into Nagasaki, which was the only Japanese port open to foreign trade at the time.

One of the first places it was used was in a dining hall for Dutch traders at the Dutch factory on the island of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, where glass doors made using many panes of glass were fitted into what essentially was a traditional wooden building. Shortly after that, in 1859, the shogunate, which had only permitted the Netherlands and China to trade at Nagasaki throughout the Edo period (1603–1867), at long last opened its ports to the world in places such as Nagasaki, Yokohama, and Kobe. Traders from various Western nations soon arrived in Japan as if they had been longing for the moment and began erecting trading houses and homes one after another in the foreign settlements established nearby the opened ports. These buildings were designed in Western styles and naturally used glass windows. Famous examples still standing include the Glover House (1862) and Ort House (1865 or 1866) in Nagasaki.

November 11, 2021

Issue 2: The Buried Black Roofs : Orchid Island (Part 1)

While we may often speak of “Taiwanese people,” people belonging to a variety of ethnicities and religions live in Taiwan. While I flew to Taiwan’s main island for this installment, I’d like to write about one of its outlying islands.
A small volcanic island floats in the Pacific Ocean around ninety kilometers southeast of Taitung, a city in eastern Taiwan. Known as Orchid Island, it has long been inhabited by the indigenous Tao (or Yami) people, who hunt flying fish. It is now also a lively tourist destination, known as a spot for diving. Though the term “indigenous Taiwanese people” is used to describe a number of ethnicities who lived on the islands prior to the 17th century, when many immigrants came to the islands from the Chinese mainland, the Tao people are the lone ethnic group that does not live on the main island.

Getting to Orchid Island is a bit of work. It takes about two hours to cross the Kuroshio Current and travel there by boat from Taitung.
I boarded my boat early in the morning from the port and found that its air conditioning was unusually strong. The plastic bags prepared for us on the seats and the number of large buckets in the aisles gave me a foreboding feeling about the severe journey ahead. I’d asked at a pharmacy for powerful motion sickness medicine, so I swallowed it with a prayer, took my seat, and closed my eyes.
I began to hear the voices of those falling victim to the trip once the boat really began to sway. Crew members scurried through the aisles, replacing now-used plastic bags. I’d prepared myself for this, but what a dreadful world it was. I readied myself for the worst when the Tao boy sitting next to me began to lean against my body, but fortunately I was able to disembark on the island without incident, as did this quietly napping child.

  • The sea from Orchid Island
August 4, 2021

Four Tectonic Features that Reside Within Prouvé’s Window Details

Jean Prouvé was originally a metalworker by trade, but he became a leading modernist architect himself through collaborating with progressive architects such as Le Corbusier. He is particularly known for making inventive use of industrial prefabrication from the postwar reconstruction years and demonstrating the possibilities of the new technology for not only architecture but also furniture design. In this article series, structural engineer Shin Yokoo, who has been researching Prouvéʼs achievements from both an engineering and design perspective, sheds light on the architectʼs experimental work with windows.


Jean Prouvé was born in 1901 in Nancy, France, and he went on to produce a great number of designs (primarily furniture and buildings) during his lifetime. Influenced by his father, Victor, who led an Art Nouveau school in Nancy, Prouvé took an apprenticeship with Émile Robert and began his creative career as a metalworker. In his late years, he headed the jury of the architecture competition for the Pompidou Center in Paris and contributed greatly towards its realization before he passed away in 1984. In the time between, he continued to actively collaborate with architects and his associates and experiment with new technology and construction methods as he produced design after design for projects that included pre- and post-war mass-producible temporary housing, private homes, public facilities, school buildings, and the furniture to go inside them. He carried out much of this work at his personal factory, Ateliers Jean Prouvé (founded in Nancy and later relocated to Maxéville), which was staffed by some 250 skilled workers. All told, he was involved in 1,456 projects, and 412 of them were architectural.

April 27, 2021

Aram from Armenia

The atmosphere in a room viewed through a window. The outdoor scenery as you look through the window. The moving views you see from a train window. Windows give vague boundaries to our everyday lives, as if they were destined to be there. And windows can occasionally crop your view like a painting. The novelist Yusho Takiguchi walks you through a scene with windows, engaging with the various aspects of a person who has certain attachment to them.

The long-run residence program at the University of Iowa is where the Armenian writer Aram Pachyan and Takiguchi met for the first time. As Takiguchi reminisced about the program 3 years ago and the distance between himself and Aram, this current dialogue was initiated by Takiguchi as he wrote questions to Aram about his window at home.


Questions Yusho Takiguchi

Tell me about the windows in your room. About size, shape, color, materials and the scenery you can see from there…and anymore.

How does the window affect your life or your work?

If you have any ideas about the motif of “window”, please write freely.


March 9, 2021

Today/Yesterday #2

This column is the second in a series by artist Yokomizo Shizuka, who lives in London. She weaves together photographs and text to show us what she sees through her windows as the everyday changes dramatically. In this second column, her topic is the sense of “waiting,” in the everyday before and after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.


From my kitchen window I can see the huge conifer in my next door neighborʼs garden. During the day, the shadow of that huge tree falls mostly on our side. During the lockdown, we were blessed with good weather so that when the sun was out, the girls who live next door would bring out their deck chairs and sunbathe in their garden, all day long.

As spring turned into early summer, lots of birds flocked to that big conifer. At the top are branches that somewhat resemble the shape of a rooster weathervane. When I saw that a bird had happened to land on the branch that was like the head of the rooster, I would sit in my kitchen chair, invisible to the girls sunbathing below, and stare at the bird through my binoculars. The birds sitting on the branches were most often blackbirds or wrens, commonly seen birds. But the blackbird who was sitting at the top of the tall tree surveying the world around it, with the sky as its background, looked rather proud. When I open my window, I hear the sounds of children playing. The airplanes have disappeared from the sky. There is no noise from cars on the street. All I hear are the voices of the birds and the children, and the sounds of everyday life from next door. It feels so much like a summer holiday.

January 14, 2021

Shizuka Yokomizo|Today/Yesterday #1

Today/Yesterday is a series of columns written by London-based artist Shizuka Yokomizo.  She weaves together photographs and text to show us what she observes through her windows as the everyday gently changes. In this her first column, she tells us about a house in a West London neighborhood once known as an artists colony, where generations of artists have lived.

November 19, 2020

An Alien Landscape from the Window

Clear air, born from the trees, the land. White steam that murmurs from a kitchen. Plants that sprout from the earth, and flowers floating in a vase. The pigments in the sky at sunset, primary colors in an LCD TV.
Human lives and nature are tethered at the window, where a multitude of colors merge and mingle. From Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, and one realm of the imagination–––––these are multicolored stories about windows written and painted by Korean watercolor artist Byun Young Geun.

November 13, 2020

Dreh-Kipp Windows

Windows with two opening and closing functions, one of which involves rotating inwards horizontally (“collapsing inwards”), while the other operates by rotating inwards vertically (“opening inwards”), are called Dreh-Kipp (turning, tilting) windows. Such windows first emerged in Germany: the term Dreh-Kipp consists of the German words drehen (to turn) and kippen (to tilt).

October 8, 2020

Chapter 3: The viewfinder—transparency and voyeurism from Albrecht Dürer to Ai Weiwei

Every representational image ever made is necessarily a finite framing of the outside world, a viewfinder presenting only what the creator wants us to see. This finite point of view is configured inside of the boundary or the limits of the frame, suggesting a specific spectator-object relationship in front and behind the picture place, as well as the possibility of a partially or entirely fictional construct within this restricted gaze. Leon Battista Alberti’s early treatise on painting and perspective, De Pictura (or Della Pittura) of 1435 described how artists of the 15th century were attempting to go beyond their mediaeval forebears to better model and render visible objects as if in three dimensions, rather than employing flat and symbolic stand-ins: “First of all, on the surface which I am going to paint, I draw a rectangle of whatever size I want, which I regard as an open window through which the subject to be painted is seen” (Alberti, 1435/1972, pp.54-55). These passages describing the means to achieve perspectival accuracy in turn led to various technical instruments to aid in this new era of realistic drawing, one of which was dubbed ‘Alberti’s Frame’.

Consisting of a square wooden frame with a stringed or threaded, crisscross net—rather like a square-paned or leaded window—acting as a viewing grid for the artist, the perspective machine allows the artist to map out the scene before him onto a similarly gridded sheet of paper, aiding the measurement and comparative scale of objects in the distance. Albrecht Dürer draws similar set-ups in his woodcuts, Draughtsman Making a Perspective Drawing of a Reclining Woman and Draughtsman Drawing a Lute (The Manual of Measurement), both 1525. These geometric devices gave visual artists of the Renaissance a claim to scientific precision, a precursor to the camera obscura and the photographic lens. Beyond ‘correct’ or convincing perspective, however, the power to section off portions of the visible world through mathematical means onto a picture plane gave rise to the notion of the painted image as illusionistic purveyor of truth.

October 2, 2020

Life Seeps Through Frosted Glass

Clear air, born from the trees, the land. White steam that murmurs from a kitchen. Plants that sprout from the earth, and flowers floating in a vase. The pigments in the sky at sunset, primary colors in an LCD TV.
Human lives and nature are tethered at the window, where a multitude of colors merge and mingle. From Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, and one realm of the imagination–––––these are multicolored stories about windows written and painted by Korean watercolor artist Byun Young Geun.

September 2, 2020

Nature Behind a Curtain Wall

Clear air, born from the trees, the land. White steam that murmurs from a kitchen. Plants that sprout from the earth, and flowers floating in a vase. The pigments in the sky at sunset, primary colors in an LCD TV.
Human lives and nature are tethered at the window, where a multitude of colors merge and mingle. From Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, and one realm of the imagination–––––these are multicolored stories about windows written and painted by Korean watercolor artist Byun Young Geun.

June 2, 2020

Power Window

Windows that open and close mainly through electric power using a switch or remote control to operate them are called power windows. As they can be opened and closed without touching them directly, they are used in situations where the window is question is rather heavy, or installed in locations where it is hard to reach. In recent years it has also become possible to operate such windows from a smartphone by linking them to internet technologies.

April 22, 2020

High Altitude Window

Installed in a high place such as the top of a stairwell, this sort of window facilitates “gravitational ventilation” by making use of how warm air rises. They are opened and closed using a switch or remote control, or using ball chains (operated manually). The ball chain mechanism is unique: the axis and chain that open and close the window are connected to each other, so that it opens when one pulls the chain from a distance.

February 3, 2020

Chapter 2: The frame – the window as optical device or trompe l’oeil from Mantegna to Ryan Gander

Whether facing outwards to the world or inwards to the self, an artist is often restrained by the framing device of the window—unable to break free from a rectilinear box or blank surface that demands to be filled, but which can never contain the sheer volume of possibilities and countless multitudes of our cosmos. Indeed, as an aperture, the window, canvas or blank sheet of paper is but a tiny fraction of the whole, representing only a glimpse of our visible reality. While this narrow view might contend that a window or a work of art is a necessarily compromised and merely partial inlet or outlet, it is equally true that much of our life is now increasingly being mediated by these rectilinear boundaries – whether through a television screen, a page, a photograph or a handheld phone or tablet. Rather than permitting only a restricted field of vision, these windows could be seen as magical portals to other universes or even just uncanny and lifelike portrayals of experience.

Accuracy was one of the first and foremost forms of pictorial magic performed by artists, with two early Greek painters, Zeuxis and Parrhasius competing to see whose picture could better fool the eye in an account recorded by Pliny the Elder. Zeuxis painted a bunch of grapes so compelling that birds came down to feast on them. Parrhasius congratulated his opponent and beckoned him to see his work behind a curtain, only for Zeuxis to find that the curtain was the painting.

January 14, 2020

“Traditional” Balsamic Vinegar in Modena, Northern Italy

Among fruit vinegars made from grapes, a balsamic vinegar is an essential seasoning for Italian cuisine. In the city of Modena in northern Italy, it has been used as an anti-fatigue and digestive medicine among nobility and emperors since the Middle Ages. The reason why Modena is said to be the birthplace of balsamic vinegar is because the regionʼs soil, topography and climatic conditions are ideal for grapes (varieties: Lambrusco, Torrebiano, Ancerotta) and the annual temperature in Modena is ideal for aging balsamic vinegar.

In this article, I will refer to balsamic vinegar in Modena as “traditional” balsamic vinegar, distinguishing it from ordinary balsamic vinegar. The difference is in its production method. Ordinary balsamic vinegar that you usually see at supermarkets is made by adding wine vinegar*, coloring, flavoring, caramel, etc, after having fermented it with acetic acid in wooden barrels for 3 to 4 years. “Traditional” balsamic vinegar does not have added ingredients, and is produced by aging in wooden barrels for over 10 years.

The “Acetair Sereni” brewery produces balsamic vinegar in this way. In order to get to the distillery, one has to go up and down the many hills scattered around the base of the Apennine Mountains, as if sewing them together. I visited the brewery around October, just when the vineyards were beginning to change color with the autumn leaves.

  • The hilly area of Modena colored red and yellow
July 11, 2019

Symbolic Realism

The pioneers (2) Talbot

View of the Boulevards at Paris, 1843

William Henry Fox Talbot was in France between May and June 1843. The main reason for his trip was to teach a series of aspiring calotypists and promote his procedure beyond the Channel (along with the ensuing commercial success). Compared to that of Daguerre, his approach had the major advantage of allowing for multiple positive prints to be made from a paper-based negative. With the help of his faithful assistant Nicolaas Henneman, he transported his photographic equipment over almost four hundred miles from Lacock Abbey, and set up a studio right in the heart of Paris, inside an “isolated and lofty house that stands in the place du Carousel [sic] fronting the Tuileries.”1 Here, his workshop was most likely frequented by some of the pioneers of paper photography, including Hippolyte Bayard (famous for his self-portrait as a drowned man, which he took in October 1840 in order to protest against the indifference of the French government towards his inventions), Henri Victor Regnault, Jean-Baptiste Biot, Hippolyte Fizeau and Jean Louis Lassaigne, who all attended a dinner with him on the evening of 29 May.

June 12, 2019

Sash Window

A window that opens and closes by moving two or more parallel panels vertically over two or more grooves or rails is called a double sliding window, where both the top and bottom panels move. These sorts of windows developed primarily in the context of English stone built houses, and are commonly used even today in England as well as North America.

May 15, 2019

Double Sliding Window

A window that opens and closes by moving two or more parallel panels horizontally over two or more grooves or rails is called a double sliding window, where both the left and right panels move. This sort of window is an ancient Japanese mechanism for opening and closing, and its original form can be traced back to the yarido sliding panels of the Heian era (B.C. 794 to 1185). They are commonly used even today in Japanese homes.

April 26, 2019

Chapter 1: The studio – exploring the mind of the artist from Caspar David Friedrich to Spencer Finch

An artist contemplates a blank canvas or a white piece of paper in the studio or at a table, perhaps waiting for a memory or some inspiration to stimulate that first mark. What follows is an insight into either their viewpoint of the world or the inner workings of the artistʼs mind at that moment. Either way or whatever the impetus behind that initial gesture, the pristine surface and the bounds of the blank support are there to be broken through, in order to begin creating a window to another reality.

The rectilinear frame of a painting mimics that of a window, waiting to be filled in or opened up. The two-dimensional panel can be seen as an aperture to escape from or to burrow into and hide, while the lack of transparent panes of glass means both artist and viewer are required to insert or intuit their own vision of what lies on or behind the picture plane.

March 28, 2019

The Battle for Realism

The pioneers (1) Niépce and Daguerre

“I made a dissolution of silver nitrate, much diluted by water, in the same proportions as those indicated in the report above on Photographie, to which I also refer for those who have never made a silver solution in nitric acid. I wetted one side of a thin paper sheet; I laid it out at the back of the camera obscura1 by sticking it on its edges, to keep it flat. I placed the camera obscura vertically, opposite some houses in front of my window, in such a way that the lens was vertical; and by being parallel to it, the paper received the image in full. I left the camera obscura in that state for two hours, at the end of which I went to see, and I found that the silver nitrate had become brown in the places which had received light…”2

March 5, 2019

Cinder Windows

Fenestration Observations is a series of window disquisitions by Matthew Fargo. In it, the translator of Genpei Akasegawaʼs 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.

February 7, 2019

“Placing” a Home: East Gilan, Iran, part 2

In Kachalam, a village in East Gilan, a man agreed to show me around in his car despite it only being our first meeting. As he did, I discovered one home that seemed conspicuously old. I told him I wanted to see it, and so he stopped the car. Fortunately, he also brought over the elderly couple who lived in it. They told me they lived together in the first floor of the building. The home was seriously damaged, having lost one roof, and it seemed to me that it was the oldest one Iʼd seen so far. It was hard for me to communicate with them, but if you were to believe what I learned from the couple, it was 140 years old.

  • What seems to be the oldest home in Kachalam
January 28, 2019

Dry-cured Ham Culatello in Zibello Village

At the beginning of November, I drove a car north from Parma and aimed for Zibello village. As I passed through the central Old City, I saw fields and houses scattered around. As I advanced the car further north, it suddenly began to fog all over. Even though it was still 3 oʼclock in the afternoon, the road ahead was hazy enough to make it difficult to see without headlights.

Here, Zibello village is close to the Po River, which is the longest river in Italy. The humidity is high, and as the temperature drops, the water vapor in the air becomes a small water grain and  turns into small drops of water, so the area gets wrapped in fog during the winter. The fog produced here in Zibello village is a very important natural resource for the production of dry-cured ham Culatello.

  • On the road from Parma to the production facility
January 23, 2019

Adobe Windows

Fenestration Observations is a series of window disquisitions by Matthew Fargo. In it, the translator of Genpei Akasegawaʼs 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.

November 20, 2018

Looking at Freespace through the Windows, Part 3

Vatican Pavilion (Holy See Pavilion)
Andrew Berman

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?




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 Genpei Akasegawaʼs 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.


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)