Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Avant Zen: Today’s Japanese Architecture

The Tod. Via.

Purity, clarity, calm. Much of Japan’s contemporary architecture exudes such feelings with wave-like curved walls and deceivingly simple stacked box structures. These buildings inspire awe, break beyond the expected and strive for ecological mindfulness--hand-in-hand with Zen concepts.

On November 10 Japan Society hosts New Japan Architecture: Recent Works & New Trends with celebrated architect Edward Suzuki and Dr. Geeta Mehta, professor of architecture at Colombia University and author of New Japan Architecture: Recent Works by the World's Leading Architects.

Inspired by Design published arresting highlights from this “new magnum opus of Japanese design”, featuring 42 established and fringe architects and 48 major projects from Kisho Kurokawa’s Tokyo National Museum (awesome interview in that link), to Toyo Ito’s Tod building, to Shigeru Ban’s Tokyo headquarters for Swatch. From the book's introduction:

When it comes to contemporary house design, the Japanese can be fearless and willing to forego comforts dear to most of us in order to live in a work of art. Shigeru Ban once remarked that he loved working for clients in Japan because they were willing to take a design further than any Western client.
Edward Suzuki, one of the featured architects in the book, has created a wide range of impressively designed homes, schools, and train stations, as well as the unlikely koban in Shibuya and a parking area out in Chiba. Born in Saitama in 1947, he studied at the University of Notre Dame and worked at various design firms in Tokyo and New York before starting his own in 1977. His works invoke a simultaneous sense of openness and structure through his use of large glass pane windows and repeated squares, rectangles, and the occasional curve to form the framework of a building. Interior greenery like large trees and potted bamboo add to the fresh, breath-taking feel of his designs.

Geeta Mehta has spent much of her life in Japan, graduating from the University of Tokyo, and is partner with Jill Braden at the interior design firm Braden & Mehta Design. Her harmonious blend of Western and Asian influences appear in work throughout U.S., Vietnam, and India as well for various corporations and private homes. Among her humanitarian efforts, she founded the the Mumbai-based Urbz think tank and the nonprofit Asia Initiatives. Along with the publication of New Japan Architecture, Mehta has penned several books on Japanese architecture and design.

--Sean Tomizawa

Earth first in much of Japan’s new architecture. Via.

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