[goodbye] You have probably noticed by now that there are less posts on Japanese architectures lately. Gero who had posted about residential architecture in Japan by emerging architects left the blog over the summer to focus on his new career. Good luck to his new endeavor!
[hello] A few day ago, there was a post by my good friend with his ‘drive-by shooting’ photo in LA. Physician/curator Kóan Jeff Baysa (a.k.a. docsensei) is joining the blog to share his views on art, medicine, technology, architecture, fashion, design, cuisine, and scent.
Dr. Kóan Jeff Baysa is a physician, curator, designer, writer, Whitney Museum ISP Curatorial Fellow alumnus, and a member of AICA, the association of international art critics. He has curated exhibitions internationally as well as for the Whitney Museum, Canon Corporation, and the United Nations. On the boards of The Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School University and the Omi International Arts Center, he has presented lectures at the MoMA, Whitney Museum, NextMed, the Phillips Collection and the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study. He received a Ford Foundation grant to lecture at the Hanoi University of Culture and is the Chair of the Advisory Board for Collectrium, a tech company creating beautiful technology for the art world. Born and raised in Hawaii and completing his medical education as a fellow at UCSF, Dr. Baysa has segued from a clinical practice in allergy and clinical immunology to clinical research investigating neuroplasticity, olfactory stimuli, and memory disorders. His medical and curatorial practices bring the cultures of science, design, technology, and art together.
Welcome aboard, docsensei!
Photo © Kóan Jeff Baysa
Helios House BP was designed by Office dA in Boston and is located at the intersection of Robertson and Olympic boulevards in Los Angeles. This is hailed as the first environmentally-conscious gas station. With solar panels and a water catchment system, it was awarded LEED certification!
The best part of keeping this blog is discovering new architects around the world and their works. Today, we invite you to view the work of the architect duo Nicolas Vanden Eeckhout and Laurence Creyf in Brussels. (Thanks, Stéphane!)
Photo © Takeshi Yamagishi
When so called “IVY House,” an abandoned house in Tokyo renovated by SPEAC, was posted at ArchDaily and Dezeen a few weeks ago, it was not received well by their readers. It made me wonder since the house captured my heart instantly. I started to think about a cultural difference in food. Most Japanese would salivate seeing alive fish, but on the contrary, Westerners would react differently – many of them associate the smell of bad fish. Unless you grew up in Tokyo in the late ’60s through early ’70s, probably it’s difficult to see this project the way I do, and for most, probably it’s just meaningless.
The original house was something typical that I had seen as a kid growing up in a middle-class neighborhood of Tokyo in the late ’60s. One has to understand the living standard of middle-class Japan during the ’60s through the early ’70s was that of a lower class in the United States. I grew up both in New York and Tokyo as a child and could never forget the contrast between the two very different qualities of lives.
It’s easy to figure out that this project had a small budget from the start, and that made the outcome of the project special. Let’s put it this way, a middle-class home built in a developing East Asian country in the late ’60s gets a recession-style makeover of 2009. What we see here is nothing fancy or cool (well, it is actually COOL). The void between the two eras, before and after the collapse of the “bubble economy” in Japan during the ’80s, is omnipresent throughout the house. If you cannot appreciate it as a good renovation, I suggest you see it as art!
I will omit the statement from SPEAC and call it Tsuta House instead of IVY House on this blog Continue Reading
One thing I have noticed since I started to post about architecture here is that I receive amazing architectural renderings from young architects in Europe and other countries but have never seen such things from young Japanese architects. The young Japanese architects seem to have more opportunities to build new houses and buildings, and that may have something to do with the fact that I have hardly seen a jaw-dropping architecture proposal by a young Japanese architect – I only get to see actual results in photographs. However things are changing, and now there are too many aspiring architects in Japan trying to win fewer projects compared to maybe a decade ago. I started to see more cases where a few architects working together on a relatively small project. As a matter of fact, I often find a project which is done by a group of architects more interesting than a solo work.
It is slightly different from, say, a group of three designers working simply on a same project together, but here is an even more interesting example how younger architects try to thrive in a shrinking market. The three partners of a Tokyo-based firm SPEAC, Inc. all studied architecture. Atsumi Hayashi, one of the two founding partners of the firm, studied architecture at the elite “Todai” (The University of Tokyo), then real estate development at Columbia University, and worked at McKinsey & Company before establishing SPEAC. The other founding partner Hiroya Yoshizato studied architecture at the Tokyo Metropolitan University and cofounded RealTokyoEstate, a real estate company, with several others prior to establishing SPEAC with Hayashi. Hiroyuki Miyabe, the third partner, who joined SPEAC in 2007 has focused on architectural design since his graduation from The University of Tokyo. Miyabe worked for a renowned Japanese architect Atsushi Kitagawara before his research at The Technical University of Lisbon.
SPEAC is a multidisciplinary firm, and by looking at their resumes, it’s not so difficult to guess the roll of each partner at SPEAC. In fact, it is much easier than to imagine how multiple architects work together on a small to midsize project in Japan. We are going to show one of SPEAC‘s smaller projects tomorrow (or the day after…), which I personally fell in love with, but first, I would like to encourage you to explore SPEAC‘s website.
Photo © Takumi Ota
This is a house for four adults, and the privacy of each individual living in the house was important. ‘Voids’ were used cleverly in the design to allow the light and air in each space Continue Reading
Photo © COGITE
It is fair to say that Galvalume® sheet roofing and siding combination is the most popular exterior option for a low cost housing project in Japan these days. Galvalume is a fantastic material developed by Bethlehem Steel Corporation (dissolved 2003) in ’72, and the world wide production is continuously rising since its introduction. The problem in Japan is that most home owners try to build new houses, but the budgets are usually very limited. As a result, there are too many hoses with a warehouse-like appearance (and often in black or similar dark colors!). But that doesn’t make me want to hate Galvalume sheet steel. What I would like is to see more architects willing to make houses look a little more special with this overly popular material… like this new house designed by Cogite, who does great job in the deep south of Japan Continue Reading
Photo © Katsutoshi Sasaki + Associates
We had a short series of posts last year showing houses and a building designed by Katsutoshi Sasaki in Aichi, Japan. The latest project completed by his firm last month has a unique shape to help reduce wind resistance due to the strong western wind in the area during winter. Continue Reading
© Yoshitaka Arita