Category — Architecture
Ichi-go ichi-e (一期一会) is one of those Japanese phrases that is near-impossible to translate. Derived from a mix of roots like tea master Sen no Rikyo, Buddhism and also Tokugawa Shogunate politics, the term can be used to encourage one to cherish a once in a lifetime moment or – in the tradition of tea ceremonies – a cup of tea. (The Japanese title for the movie Forest Gump was Ichi-go ichi-e, perhaps because of the protagonist’s tendency to appreciate every moment and every chance encounter.) It was with those spirits that Mr. Yamashi, a trained, class 1 tea steward (sometimes known as a cha-mmelier) decided to open a shop dedicated to Japan’s finest teas.
151E is written in alpha-numeric characters but is pronounced ichi-go ichi-e. It opened shop in Fukuoka 2 months ago and boasts the finest varieties of teas from the Kyushu region. But it wasn’t only tea that Mr. Yamashi has as taste for. The shop also features an elegant interior with minimally gorgeous packaging for each tea. They say the way of tea is inscrutable, but Mr. Yamashi has certainly figured it out.
December 10, 2013 No Comments
all photos by flickr user Jacome
Within the grounds of the sacred Fukita Shrine on Shodoshima Island rests a new structure, seemingly out of place yet at one with nature. This is Fukita Pavillion (PDF), Ryuei Nishizawa’s latest work. The architect and one half of the duo SANAA (previously) completed the structure over the summer as part of the 2013 Setouchi Arts Festival. It consists of 2 large sheets of metal – one forms the base and hosts a crescent shaped bench for seating while also holding up the second sheet, which appears to droop over it.
A large tree rises through the two sheets, which calmly and steadily form round openings. In the summer a cool breeze passes through the pavilion. Children play on the slopes it creates while adults rest on the bench and contemplate its coexistence with nature.
The Fukita Shrine creates an interesting contrast between the Teshima Museum on a neighboring island and also designed by Nishizawa.
November 13, 2013 No Comments
A bright, iridescent rock garden. Ceilings and floors turned into artwork. A circular tower that encompasses you with images. This is Teshima Yokoo House, a renovated home turned into a museum to house the work of artist and graphic designer Tadanori Yokoo. The structure, which opened over the summer of 2013, is the latest addition to the ongoing develop of the Setouchi Islands as an artistic and cultural hub, and was a collaboration between Yokoo himself and architect Yuko Nagayama.
One major theme throughout the space is the convergence of art and architecture. Translucent red panels appear throughout the space, at times making it appear is if a whole room is just a painting in itself. The red glass also has the strange effect of making the red rock garden disappear.
What makes the space special is it’s efforts to involve the locals citizens, most of whom are elderly. Neighbors were always welcome to observe the construction process and they were even invited to help lay the ceramic tiles in the rock garden. Through a collaborative process, the site became part of the community rather than just a museum. Staying true to their theme of “life and death,” the museum even offers funeral and cremation services.
November 5, 2013 1 Comment
From squeaky clean to technologically bizarre, much has been said and written about Japanese public restrooms. And while some of it is hyperbole and sensationalism generated by an overly zealous foreign press, Japan does lead the world in toilet technology. The country also takes great pride in cleanliness and restrooms are one of the first places to begin.
The public restroom has largely been shunned as an architectural subject in the western world but in Japan it stands as its own archetype. Here are some recent public restroom designs in Japan that have been turning heads for reasons other than an uncontrollable bladder.
Halftecture OO by Shuhei Endo (2006)
Halfitecture OO is 1 of 3 public restrooms that architect Endo Shuhei designed inside the Osaka Castle Park. Reminiscent of a Richard Serra sculpture, the truss-shaped walls are made of a single sheet of anti-corrosive steel that holds up its own weight. Underneath the steel sheet is a white box that holds the actual lavatory facilities.
Tokinokura Lavatories by Shuichiro Yoshida (2009)
Located in Chikusei City (Ibaraki), a region known for their historical stone storage buildings (ishikura), a group of citizens operate Tokinokura – a storage building converted into an event space for hosting exhibitions. In 2008 the group selected Shuichiro Yoshida to design a much-needed lavatory for staff and visitors. It was constructed in a narrow alley behind the building, hence the high ceilings.
Absolute Arrows by Bunzo Ogawa (2009-current)
In 2009 Bunzo Ogawa of Future Studio was selected to design a series of public restrooms to be designed in public parks across the city of Hiroshima. Ogawa proposed three repeatable designs that could adapt to the different sizes of parks. (By law, Japanese public restrooms cannot encompass more than 2% of a park’s surface area.)
The concept of the restrooms were to embed the City of Hiroshima with an “absolute axis,” similar to the horizontal and vertical axes of the planet, with all arrows pointing North. In Essence, the arrows create a place that is no longer pinned down as a city within Japan, on a map, that was destroyed by nuclear weapons. Instead, it is now part of a grander space and transcends towards a coexistence with the planet. And I suppose those encountering the restrooms have an even greater sense of this. It helps them imagine what is beyond the park fence, or the neighbors wall, or the city’s high-rise buildings.
Kikuchi Pocket Park Restrooms by Takao Shiotsuka (2012)
Connect the town – this was the seemingly simple yet lofty goal entrusted to Takao Shiotsuka Atelier as they set about designing a park and public restroom in the middle of historic Kikuchi City in Kumamoto. The result was 3 different parks and restrooms, each with their own theme, that weave throughout the town. One of the restrooms is reminiscent of an abstract rock placed within the center of a Zen garden. Another forms from curved metal pipes that define the pathways and then create circular restrooms.
The World’s Largest Public Restroom by Sou Fujimoto (2012)
In the middle of Chiba’s Boso peninsula is Itabu Station, a lone, unmanned station that sits on the Kominato Line. Trains come and go about every 2 hours and, on average, deliver about 6 people. In stark contrast to the very quiet nature of the station sits a facility that makes a very bold statement: “the world’s largest public restroom.”
Completed in 2012 by architect Sou Fujimoto, the grand lavatory – a clear glass box sitting in the middle of a lush flower garden – encompasses an area 200 sq meters (about 2150 sq ft). It is indeed larger than the train station it accompanies.
The lavish, larger-than-life-lavatory, which is encompassed by a pervert-preventing black wooden log fence, was designed to both attract visitors but to also be part of an art fair happening this year. Indeed, those statistics I quoted earlier were as of 2010. We’ll just have to wait and see if foot traffic picks up.
Note to visitors: The restroom is for women only. Guys will be asked to use a much more modest bathroom nearby.
Hut with the Arc Wall by Tato Architects (2013)
Part art installation part functioning public restroom, “Hut with the Arc Wall” was created by Tato Architects for the 2013 Setouchi Triennale. Located on Shodoshima Island, the architects drew inspiration from the large cedar barrels originally used to make soy sauce on that exact site. And the roof is made from a mixture of opaque and transparent tiles, which allows sunlight to filter in during the day but also creates quite a spectacle at night.
November 3, 2013 2 Comments
It’s not an uncommon story in Japanese suburbia: a large plot of land gets bought up by a developer, who slices and dices into 20, sometimes 50 cookie cutter homes that look almost identical. So was the case of a family in Ikoma City, right on the border of Nara Prefecture. When they moved into their new home they found themselves with a large backyard, the majority of which was intended for parking.
So with the help of architect Takanori Kagawa of SPACESPACE, the family renovated their backyard and created a fully-defined, multi-functional space out of just concrete. The concrete begins by connecting the living room and kitchen to a large outdoor space – an extension, almost, of the living area. The concrete then rises up, creating seating and a milk-carton like shape whose inside serves as a cover for bicycles and the family car.
And if that wasn’t cool enough, the architects also went to work on the living room on the 1st floor, transforming the structural beams in the large space into shelving and hangars.
October 21, 2013 Comments Off
The brand new Takeo City Library opened on April 1, 2013 in Saga Prefecture. But this facility is no joke. A collaboration between Takeo City and Culture Convenience Club (C.C.C.) – the operator of video rental and bookshop chain Tsutaya – the new library is intended to serve as a cultural hub for the community.
In addition to typical library functionality, the space merges concepts of library, bookshop and café to offer a multi-use space where users can come to read, study or just enjoy a cup of coffee. The library is also revolutionary in its management approach. It’s being jointly run by the state and C.C.C., a private enterprise. And so far the new strategy seems to be working. In the 6 months since the new library opened, visitors have increased by an astounding 355%.
The new library has taken a page from the book of Daikanyama t-site. Not only have they incorporated the same signage but they’re also stocking over 600 magazine titles.
this post is part of our review of the 2013 Good Design Awards. Click here to view the full series.
October 15, 2013 Comments Off
In 2008 Kazuyo Sejima – the chain-smoking partner of one of Japan’s most luminous architecture studios SANAA – was brought on to the Inujima Art House Project, part of an initiative aimed at revitalizing the islands of the Inland Sea through art, architecture and design. To date, Sejima’s contributions have been, amongst others, the S-Art House, I-Art, Nakanotani Gazebo and the unfortunately titled F-Art House.
But her latest creation is A-Art House, a stunning gallery space that was completed over the summer. Collaborating with the artist Haruka Kojin (previously) and art director Yuko Hasegawa, Sejima has erected a clear acrylic circle with a kaleidoscope of brightly colored shapes made from clusters of manmade petals. The project “explores the theme of an ‘earthly paradise’ of Arcadian ideals that fuses art and architecture with the landscapes and people of the island.”
See more photos on photographer Iwan Baan’s website.
October 10, 2013 1 Comment
Situated in the middle of a rice paddy is a sleek, modern building that, well, looks nothing like a dog salon. But of course, it is. Inside the sloped structure – intended, from the outside, to resemble a seated dog – is a combined residence and dog salon named mamacona. It’s located in Oita prefecture in the small coastal town of Usa (pronounced ew-sa).
The dog salon occupies the part of the building adjacent to the main road with the family’s living quarters towards the back. The bathroom and kitchen is located in the center, where it can be easily accessed from both the home and shop. “Because the line of sight extends unbroken from the shop entrance back through the garden, the space feels larger than it actually is,” explains Naoko Horibe, the architect behind the space.
October 7, 2013 Comments Off
About 1 year ago we reported that renowned Japanese architect Arata Isozaki will team up with British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor to create an inflatable concert hall. Dubbed Arc Nova, the mobile venue will tour the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged areas of Tohoku, delivering hope and encouragement in the form of music.
Well it appears that the structure is almost complete. Photos on their facebook page reveal what the interior and exterior of the completed structure looks like. Arc Nova takes about 2 hours to inflate and holds roughly 500 people. The wooden benches were completed during a workshop in August, in which volunteers showed up and used wood from tsunami-damaged cedar trees at Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima.
In speaking to the Telegraph, Anish Kapoor said: “Ark Nova is the first mobile inflatable concert hall. We felt that the site in Matsushima, amidst the destruction of the tsunami, needed a temporary structure and an inflatable seemed to be appropriate.”
The concert hall was established in collaboration with organizers of the Swiss Lucerne Festival. “The images of 11 March, 2011 have left their mark on all of us,” said the organizers. “With the Lucerne Festival Ark Nova Project we hope to give the people who are living with this situation something more than everyday pleasure. Combining different arts and cultures, this project is a fascinating symbiosis of architecture, design, folkloristic and classical music as well as music education.”
The first performance is scheduled for October 12th. The complete line-up can be found on their website.
September 24, 2013 5 Comments
This week we’ll be showcasing a few artists who are currently showing at Rokko Meets Art, an outdoor arts festival that is running November 24th. The splendid outdoor museum is on Mt. Rokko, which boasts fantastic views, gorgeous autumn foliage and is easily accessible from Kobe or Osaka.
One of the main attractions is Rokko Shidare, a structure built 3 years ago by eco-conscious architect Hiroshi Sambuichi. Dubbed “the nature sensory observation deck,” the dome was built almost entirely from hinoki wood and operates on solar and wind power alone. The structure is comprised of numerous hexagons and was designed to attract frost in the winter. And in summer it’s designed to pull in the wind through an opening in the ceiling making it super cool and breezy.
When the sun sets “Lightscape in Rokko” kicks in, lighting up the entire structure with LED lights capable of expressing over 10 million different colors.
September 23, 2013 Comments Off