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A foray into the office of Junya Ishigami in Tokyo reveals new aspects of his design philosophy, intent on creating architectural experiences poised between engineering challenges and simple gestures Architecture / Joseph Grima
Engineering and tradition
Author Joseph Grima Photography Yasushi Ichikawa, junya.ishigami +associates Published 10 June 2013 Location Tokyo
Sections Architecture, Stories Keywords DOMUS 969, James Turrell, junya.ishigami +associates, Kanagawa Institute of Technology
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Walk into Junya Ishigami’s new office in the Roppongi neighbourhood of Tokyo, and the first thing you’ll notice between the model-laden desks and workstations is a large,
gaping hole in the concrete floor slab. Each project is an opportunity to question the basic assumptions of every aspect of architectural practice: from engineering to furniture and from climate control to circulation. The study models highlight an exercise in . then stretches architecture to the limits of impossibility to realise it. Ishigami envisions a condition or an experience. and seem mildly baffled by my surprise. I peer down into the basement: a sea of models from past projects are haphazardly piled in stacks as far as the eye can see.ishigami+associates. work progressing on the models of homes for the elderly. As a result. Photo by junya. and the envelope is simply a device that triggers the experience. Ishigami operates by creating a powerful realitydistortion field. which are exploited to aid the future inhabitants’ sense of orientation. Top: In Ishigami’s studio. Like all exceptionally true visionaries. Ishigami’s collaborators (relatively few. Above: Project for a residential centre for the elderly. The structures vary according to their original geographic location and the technique used by the carpenters who made them. considering the office’s prodigious model output) seem to have become so accustomed to the abnormality of a gaping void in the office floor as to no longer notice it. in which extraordinary lengths are taken to isolate the simplest of experiences—the act of observing the sky change colour — for Ishigami the experience is the architecture. Much as with the James Turrell’s Skyspace installations. Each has its own characteristics. there is an utter indifference to the effort required to produce this experience: Ishigami’s architecture runs the spectrum from nearimpossible engineering challenges to simple gestures of displacement. and the hole in the floor is perhaps the least exceptional thing his collaborators must learn to metabolise.
low enough to be able to raise an arm and brush your hand against it.working on variations of traditional housing typologies. and not a single . Like the partition-free workshop building. The pavilion is developed horizontally on a single floor. an even more ambitious endeavour is in the making.3 m. and one with a rather low ceiling at that — 2. with a surface of about 110 x 70 m. it confounds all existing labels for university-building typologies. it is one of the most phenomenal engineering challenges to have ever faced a university cafeteria. and covered by a thin steel roof that floats at a height of approximately 2. Project for the cafeteria on the campus of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. because this room is the size of a football pitch.3 metres. 2008) that first brought him worldwide recognition for its open plan interrupted only by the slenderest of columns. to underscore just how extreme the project’s ambition is. the building is the simplest of gestures: a single room. Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa On the other. when one is confronted by the model. On the one hand. and the awkwardness of this rather inelegant description only serves. On the same campus of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology where in 2008 Ishigami completed the workshop building (see Domus 913. Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa The distinction between three projects currently underway in the office provides a clear demonstration of this contrast. Ishigami calls it a “cafeteria combined with a semi-outdoor multipurpose space”.
Above. Ishigami again side-stepped the conventional route towards building-making. Project for the cafeteria on the campus of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. creating a semi-enclosed garden. thin (nine-millimetre) sheet of tensioned steel. the ceiling height varies by as much as 80 centimetres. The brief specified the need for an architectural environment that the residents would easily be able to recognise.column supports the roof throughout the entire span. or moving a house from one location to another without disassembling its structure: in place of a single building. facilitating the process of identifying their own residence through the unique characteristics of each space. It is simultaneously megastructural and intimate. perforated by unsealed rectangular openings that allow light and elements to enter the space. a thin layer of soil transforms the roof itself into a landscape of grass and vegetation. The proposed strategy employs a technique known in Japanese as Hikiya. and like Ishigami’s previous works it has a deeply human dimension: as the steel roof plate expands and contracts with changes in temperature. the centre is composed of a multitude . effortless as a gesture and bewildering in its scale. This roof is a single. as though the building were alive and breathing. Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa Commissioned to design a home for elderly patients suffering from dementia.
“is to create a new type of hybrid space that could not have been conceived either by contemporary architecture or classical architecture alone.of wooden houses collected from villages throughout Japan. Photo by Yasushi Ichikawa Each unit possesses a distinctive character defined by the building frame’s proportions.” It’s a deeply empathetic architectural solution that hybridises architecture and urbanism into a space which is new yet culturally familiar to its residents. as well as the technique of the carpenters who built the house and the way it was inhabited. but the complex is given a unitary identity by “abstracting” the vernacular architecture through the substitution of the cladding with metal and glass. “The objective. In fact. . Project for the cafeteria on the campus of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology. which vary depending on the location and time period.” according to Ishigami. A unique. it’s very much like a small village compressed onto the site of a single building: the individual elements fit neatly into one architectural structure thanks to the tatami mat grid that governs most traditional Japanese domestic architecture. recognisable identity is embedded in this wooden skeletal framework and its original roof.
On the interior.ishigami+associates Much of Ishigami’s work is permeated by this deep empathy for the humdrum exercise of living everyday life. the exterior is understated to the point of anonymity. Photo by junya. from which a small forest of trees springs into .The house designed for a young couple demonstrates that for Ishigami “the act of making architecture has the same value as the act of creating a landscape”. the office recently completed a residence for a young couple that injects a microcosm of nature into the deeply artificial environment of the city. almost perfectly camouflaged into its mundane and rather harsh urban surroundings. however. the act of making architecture is subsumed by the desire to create a landscape — a point that is driven home clearly by the exposed soil in the corner of the living room. One could describe it as an exercise in the act of not creating an architectural image: unlike most other examples of recent domestic architecture in Japan. In a suburb of Tokyo (“a landscape comprised of a repetition of nothing but ready-built houses that continue endlessly”).
one realises that the interior space of this residence somehow feels more like an outdoor space than the regular. Photo by junya.ishigami+associates What sets Ishigami apart from others of his generation is the simplicity of the gestures through which his architecture is produced. Joseph Grima (@joseph_grima) . and to turn the everyday into something bewildering but beautiful. and how easy it is to be swallowed by it. driven by the desire to transform simple gestures of everyday life into architectural experiences. Looking out onto the street. irrespective of the complexity required to execute them. Perhaps the hole in the floor of his office is a quiet reminder of how threatening architecture can be. House designed for a young couple in Tokyo.the double-height space. strictly aligned cityscape outside. His architecture is uncompromising but deeply human.
ishigami+associates .House designed for a young couple in Tokyo. Photo by junya.
. junya. Stai pubblicando come Paula García‑Masedo (Non sei tu?) Pubblica su Facebook Plug‑in sociale di Facebook Commenta . Stories Keywords DOMUS 969. James Turrell.ishigami +associates..Senior citizen's housing.. Responses from Twitter loading tweets. junya.ishigami +associates Sections Architecture. Kanagawa Institute of Technology Location Tokyo Network Like on Facebook Pin to Pinterest Share on Twitter Your comments Aggiungi un commento. Ground floor plan Author Joseph Grima Photography Yasushi Ichikawa..
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