Selection and Adaptation:


International Collaboration Between Artists and Architects in Japan

Architecture in Japan traditionally revolves around the engawa verandah interface between the public and a building. There is a kind of schizophrenia between old and new, between austere and opulent: buildings range from tea houses, made with very humble materials, to gaudy, kitsch palaces.

There is a two-way interaction between Japan and the West when it comes to architecture. In the Meiji period (1852-1912) Josiah Conder, an English architect, went to Japan and taught architecture. Western-style buildings became popular, and feature in an outdoor museum, Meiji Mura, near Nagoya. Frank Lloyd Wright also went to Japan, where he built Tokyo's Imperial Hotel, among other buildings. In modem times, there is a lot of influence still from the West, Kenzo Tange was influenced by Le Corbusier and many other recent buildings show effects of American modernism.

However, if anything threatens the fabric of Japanese cities, it is commercialism and over-development. That will do much more damage even than earthquakes. Places like Kyoto, with the new station overshadowing its wonderful aperspective street plan, may be lost forever. The Japanese could learn from events in the UK in terms of preservation and conservation.

Slides which supported the presentation included the following:

Nagi Museum of Art - Arata Isozak. Arata Isozaki is the leading architect responsible for the Nagi Museum of Art, where he worked in collaboration with three artists. Within Shusaku Arakawa's tilting sun capsule, he is trying to disturb people's perception of things. The town does not have a collection of art, so he has made an instant collection with this building where he has paid the artists enormous amounts of money to work with him.

Another architect, Kazuo Shinohara, says that buildings should be works of art. He is not bothered about beauty or function, he just tries to capture the spirit of the city - a liberating, radical concept of urbanism.

Asahi Museum of Art - Tadao Ando The architect Tadao Ando built the gallery in Oyamasaki, outside Kyoto - housing the Asahi Museum of Art - alongside a so-called English-style house (actually more Swiss Alpine than English Tudor) belonging to a very wealthy Japanese. Ando, respectful of the older building, built his gallery underground so as not to impose on the existing monument. o Kansai International Airport - Renzo Piano Kansai Airport is the longest room in the world. It was created by Renzo Piano, working with the late Peter Rice. It was quite an international achievement, with everyone learning from each other

Tokyo International Forum - Raphael Vinoly an Argentinian working in New York, won a competition to design this. It houses a wonderful art collection, with many artists involved in the scheme, including Anthony Caro, Richard Deacon and Richard Long.

'Reversible Destiny'- Shusaku Arakawa and Madeleine Gins 'Reversible Destiny' is by Arakawa, an artist who now calls himself an architect. His scheme, in which it is very difficult to find a horizontal or vertical line, is deliberately trying to disorientate people so that their senses will be heightened. This has wonderful implications. In a house you may have a diagonal wall through a table - he is trying to change and affect your life, and it may change your view of the world for evermore.

The Daiwa Anglo-Japan.Foundation Government and Society Series II

Comparisons between British and Japanese Contemporary Architecture.

Graham Cooper

Shin Egashira

Professor Dennis Sharp


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