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Dental Clinic with Coved Ceiling / Hiroki Tominaga

© Takumi Ota © Takumi Ota © Takumi Ota © Takumi Ota

Tokyo Station Yaesu Redevelopment / JAHN

  • Architects: JAHN
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Architect in Charge: Nikken Sekkei
  • Contractor: Kajima Corporation
  • Area: 346.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Rainer Viertlbock

© Rainer Viertlbock © Rainer Viertlbock © Rainer Viertlbock © Rainer Viertlbock

Can Anyone Win in Architecture Criticism? An Appeal for a "New Sincerity"

In the mid-1980s, after literature had long been held hostage by postmodernist irony and cynicism, a new wave of authors called for an end to negativity, promoting a "new sincerity" for fiction. Gaining momentum into the 1990s, the movement reached a pinnacle in 1993 when, in his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, pop-culture seer David Foster Wallace, a proponent of this "new sincerity," made the following call to action: “The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles... These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.'"

Architecture, ever in debt to the styles and ideas of other art forms, could learn a thing or two now from the resuscitation of American fiction at the turn of the millennium. It too is enduring an identity crisis, mired by pessimism and uncertainty - a reality made painfully clear this past January when a New York Times Op-Ed by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, How to Rebuild Architecture, divided camps and made the design world fume. In the editorial, the authors spoke vehemently of an architectural profession that has become mired by egos and been disconnected from public needs. Things quickly got ugly, critics wrestled with critics and subsequently the public got involved. What no one seemed to take into account is that this type of hounding is at the core of the problem. In its current landscape the discipline has struggled with its past, been deferential to its present, and wrestled with the uncertainty of its future. In a moment when we have become addicted to despondency, can anyone win?

Small House with Floating Treehouse / Yuki Miyamoto Architect

  • Architects: Yuki Miyamoto Architect
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Area: 68.84 sqm
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Masayoshi Ishii

© Masayoshi Ishii © Masayoshi Ishii © Masayoshi Ishii © Masayoshi Ishii

TED Talk: Takaharu Tezuka on Tokyo's Newest Open-Air Kindergarten

"When you put many children in a quiet box, some of them get really nervous," says Japanese architect Takaharu Tezuka, founder of Tezuka Architects. "In this kindergarten, there is no reason for them to get nervous. There is no boundary." Speaking at TEDxKyoto on his design for an open-air kindergarten in Tokyo, Tezuka discusses his playful and unorthodox approach to the creation of the eccentric building. The unconventional space blurs interior with exterior while accommodating a varied program of athletic, educational and relaxed space. According to Tezuka, the concept was based on a progressive philosophy employed by the school administration: "The principal says: if the boy doesn't want to stay in the room, let him go. He will come back eventually." On children, Tezuka's own philosophy is one of empowerment: "Don't control them. Don't protect them too much. They need to tumble sometimes. They need to get injured. That makes them learn how live in this world."

Townhouse in Takaban / Niji Architects

  • Architects: Niji Architects
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Architect in Charge: Masafumi Harada + Maiko Taniguchi
  • Construction: o-works Co.,Ltd.
  • Area: 73.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Niji Photo

© Niji Photo © Niji Photo © Niji Photo © Niji Photo

Zaha Hadid Backs Down From Second Tokyo Olympic Stadium Bid

Just two weeks after the Japan Sport Council launched a second call for New National Stadium proposals, Zaha Hadid Architects and partner Nikken Sekkei have withdrawn from the competition. Although the duo promised to develop a "cost-effective" design that strictly adhered to the new competition's scaled down brief, they were unable to secure a contractor and therefore were forced to step down from the competition. 

"It is disappointing that the two years of work and investment in the existing design for a new National Stadium for Japan cannot be further developed to meet the new brief through the new design competition," said ZHA in a press release.  

Some Thoughts on Zaha Hadid Architects' Campaign to Win Back the Tokyo Stadium Commission

Zaha Hadid Architects are no longer the architects of the New National Stadium, Tokyo's headline venue for the 2020 Olympic Games. You probably already knew - ZHA have been making quite a fuss about it, with a 1,400-word statement released last month and a 23-minute video released yesterday, both arguing that scrapping their design is a bad idea.

Clearly, brevity is not one of ZHA's strong suits, so for those who don't have 30-plus minutes to chew their way through both video and statement, the basics are as follows: the official reason given by the Japanese government for scrapping the stadium has been the rising costs of the design. ZHA have countered this complaint by saying that the rising costs are not a result of their design but of an uncompetitive tender process for the construction, and of skyrocketing construction prices across the whole of Tokyo. They add that by starting the project from scratch, Japan risks overshooting their 2020 deadline for the Olympic venue.

An extra complication is added by the widespread public dislike of the stadium's design, scale and location - most notably coming in the form of a petition led by Fumihiko Maki and Toyo Ito - which has caused some to speculate that Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is secretly bowing to political pressure. In response, ZHA's video emphasized the features of the design which were either required by the brief or an attempt to respond to the context, in an attempt to absolve themselves from blame.

However, with the decision to start anew now over a month old, the question remains: will ZHA's attempts to win back the project be enough? More importantly, should this campaign be taken seriously?

© Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia © Zaha Hadid Architects. Image by Methanoia

Lamenting the Loss of Hotel Okura, One of Tokyo's Modernist Gems

The news last year that the Hotel Okura, often described as one of Tokyo´s "Modernist gems," was to be demolished was met with widespread disappointment across the board. Built in 1962 under the design direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been considered a significant architectural landmark in the Japanese capital. With only a week to go until the hotel checks out its last guest, Monocle—having been granted exclusive access—have shared with us a film to capture "the gracious ways of this much-loved building."

Housecut / Starpilots

© Satoshi Asakawa © Satoshi Asakawa © Satoshi Asakawa © Satoshi Asakawa

Toronto Takes Top Spot in Metropolis Magazine's Livable Cities Ranking

How do you compare cities? It's difficult to collapse millions of individual subjective experiences into a single method of comparison, but one popular technique used in recent years has been to judge a city's "livability." But what does this word actually mean? In their 2015 ranking of the world's most livable cities, Metropolis Magazine has gathered together a group of experts on city planning, urban life, tourism and architecture to break down "livability" into the categories they think matter and draw upon Metropolis' considerable urban coverage to produce one of the most thorough attempts to rank world series yet attempted. Find out the results after the break.

Richard Rogers Speaks Out Against Japan's Decision to Scrap Zaha Hadid Stadium

Last month, Japan officially scrapped plans for the controversial Zaha Hadid Architects-designed National Stadium that was intended to be the centerpiece of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Since the decision, ZHA released a statement that denied responsibility for the project's ballooning costs, saying the Japan Sport Council (JSC) has been approving the project's design and budget "at every stage."

Now, British architect Richard Rogers, who served on the jury that selected ZHA's stadium design, has joined the conversation claiming Japan has "lost their nerve" and warning that their decision to "start over from zero" will harm Japan's "reputation as a promoter of world-class architectural design."

Read on for Roger's full statement:

NYT Style Magazine Explores the Cultural Reasons Behind the Demolition of Japan's Hotel Okura

About a year ago, it was announced that Hotel Okura, one of Tokyo’s best-known modernist landmarks, was headed for demolition. With the impending demolition date of the hotel, deemed a “beautiful orphan child,” set for this September, an article from T: The New York Times Style Magazine’s upcoming Women’s Fashion issue looks at Japan's "ambivalent — and unsentimental — relationship with its Modernist architecture."

Zaha Hadid Architects Releases Full Statement on Scrapped Tokyo Stadium Plans

Following the news earlier this month that their design for Tokyo's 2022 Olympics stadium would be scrappedZaha Hadid Architects have released a comprehensive statement about the project's cancellation. Despite the many critics of the project's design - including Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki - it was ultimately the project's increasing costs that sparked its demise. However, the 1400-word statement from ZHA attempts to put distance between the firm and the claim by the Japan Sport Council (JSC) that much of the increase in costs was due to a complex design, instead arguing that "At every stage over the two years of development, the design and budget estimates were approved by the JSC" and adding a number of times that "ZHA worked proactively to reduce the estimated cost throughout."

Read on after the break to find out where ZHA pins the blame for the cost increases and to read the statement in full.

NOIE - Cooperative House / YUUA Architects & Associates

  • Architects: YUUA Architects & Associates
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Architect in Charge: Madoka Aihara & Tomokazu Shimizu
  • Interior Designers: YUUA Architects and Associates(NOIE K), SOL style(NOIE A)
  • Area: 796.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2012
  • Photographs: SOBAJIMA Toshihiro

© SOBAJIMA Toshihiro © SOBAJIMA Toshihiro NOIE K. Image © SOBAJIMA Toshihiro NOIE Complex. Image © SOBAJIMA Toshihiro

Zaha Hadid's Designs for the Tokyo National Stadium to be Scrapped

Following the news in 2012 that Zaha Hadid Architects had won a competition to design the 80,000-seat Tokyo National Stadium as a centerpiece for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan’s Prime Minister has announced that the plans are to be scrapped. Citing spiralling costs as a key reason, Shinzo Abe has declared that the stadium, which was set to replace the existing Kasumigaoka National Stadium, would not be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup nor the 2020 Olympic Games as originally planned.