Book Review: New Architecture in Japan

Japanese architecture often challenges convention even as it gives the occasional nod to history and tradition as aptly shown in this broad-scoped photographic collection displaying established names like Kisho Kurakawa as well as up and coming architects. Styles range from the strict ordered lines of the Big Window House created by the Tezuka Architects with its spartan 1020 sq feet of floor space that features a drop glass wall to Terunobu Fujimori’s quirky elevated private tea house constructed on two enormous oak trees.

In addition to the usual impressive spans of glass and metal or wood are some well executed instances of old industrial sites reinvented into energy conscious public buildings like the Inujima Art Project. Constructed on what was once called the world’s most expensive plot of land, the nine-story Mikimoto Ginza 2 demonstrates what the close collaboration between engineer and architect can achieve. One hundred sixty three irregular shaped windows are reminiscent of bubbles define the pale pink skin while vaulted ceilings and a curvaceous staircase dominate the airy interior.

You don’t need to be an architect to appreciate the inventiveness and clean lines of Japanese architecture as designers push the envelope to create a distinctive style. Although the bulk of the structures shown are large offices or public buildings, many of the ideas could be easily incorporated into private residences. This is an excellent source of inspiration for those looking to add the feeling of light and space to their designs without sacrificing functionality.

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