In the face of globalisation our cultural idiosyncrasies are more precious than ever before. The international style, a standardised formula of concrete and glass, poses a threat to vernacular architectures around the world. To contest this homogeneity in our built environment requires protection and invigoration of traditional forms.
In the West, buildings are preserved as objects with their physical materials protected in law against change or development. However, the Japanese directly oppose this, instead seeking to preserve the spirit of their buildings. In ‘Japan-ness in Architecture’, Arata Isozaki argues “we view buildings as events and not simply as inert objects.” He implies that for the Japanese there is a dynamism in buildings, holding the potential to be re-read and re-interpreted as a story, in place of the static material forms of the West. As a building is destroyed its physical form is lost, yet its essence remains. For contemporary practitioners, this presents a point of critical reflection to question and evaluate tradition, and an opportunity for evolution.
Kengo Kuma’s polemical essay on the ‘Anti-Object’ furthers this opposition to the object oriented monumental forms of the Western tradition. In its place, he proposes a ‘weak’ and ‘fragmented’ Architecture that is concerned with the relationship between human, material and environment. Through an analysis of this theory and Kuma’s approach to design, the research project aims to examine what it means for architecture to be Japanese and how it has evolved from the traditional to the contemporary. These themes are explored through a drawn comparative study of the traditional ‘Kyo-Machiya’ and Kuma’s ‘Bato Hiroshige Museum of Art’.
Full disseration upload coming soon.