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Japanese Architecture

Capital Tokyo

Language Japanese

Area 377,972.28 km2

Population 127,110,047

Contemporary Japanese architecture combines a rich mix of traditional design practices and western modern aesthetics. The dialogue between these two is present in the integration of time-honored Japanese architectural elements such as sliding doors (fusama) and modular tatami floor mats with cutting edge design and technology. Japan architecture is at the forefront of investigating questions of micro-housing in its dense cities like Tokyo where the population outnumbers the available space. This page features the work of Japanese architectural offices such as Tadao Ando and Associates and SANAA along with interviews and articles about the ever-changing architectural discourse in Japan.
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Latest news in Japan

Discover 20 Years of Tokyo's Development Through the Lens of Peter M. Cook

05:00 - 6 May, 2019
Discover 20 Years of Tokyo's Development Through the Lens of Peter M. Cook, © Peter M. Cook
© Peter M. Cook

British architectural photographer Peter M. Cook has documented the city of Tokyo and its evolution for more than twenty years. Following the development of the city and its buildings with a large-format camera, Cook's first book of photographs have been published by Hatje Cantz Verlag with 100 shots. The monochromatic, large-format photographs reveal a story of one of the world's most iconic cities.

When Sunlight Meets Tadao Ando’s Concrete

06:30 - 18 April, 2019
When Sunlight Meets Tadao Ando’s Concrete, Vitra Conference Pavilion, Weil am Rhein / Germany. Image © Vitra, by Richard Bryant
Vitra Conference Pavilion, Weil am Rhein / Germany. Image © Vitra, by Richard Bryant

If there is any consistent factor in his work, says Pritzker-winning architect Tadao Ando, then it is the pursuit of light. Ando’s complex choreography of light fascinates most when the viewer experiences the sensitive transitions within his architecture. Sometimes walls wait calmly for the moment to reveal striking shadow patterns, and other times water reflections animate unobtrusively solid surfaces. His combination of traditional Japanese architecture with a vocabulary of modernism has contributed greatly to critical regionalism. While he is concerned with individual solutions that have a respect for local sites and contexts Ando’s famous buildings – such as the Church of the Light, Koshino House or the Water Temple – link the notion of regional identity with a modern imagining of space, material and light. Shoji walls with diffuse light are reinterpreted in the context of another culture, for instance, filtered through the lens of Rome’s ancient Pantheon, where daylight floods through an oculus. Ando’s masterly imagination culminates in planning spatial sequences of light and dark like he envisioned for the Fondation d’Art Contemporain François Pinault in Paris.

Skyscrapers of 2018: Soaring Beyond the Archetypal Crystal Tower

07:00 - 14 December, 2018
Skyscrapers of 2018: Soaring Beyond the Archetypal Crystal Tower, © Viktor Sukharukov
© Viktor Sukharukov

Either as singular outcroppings or as part of a bustling center, skyscrapers are neck-craning icons across major city centers in the world. A modern trope of extreme success and wealth, the skyscraper has become an architectural symbol for vibrant urban hubs and commercial powerhouses dominating cities like New York, Dubai, and Singapore.

Japan's Bet on Adaptive Reuse to Alleviate an Emerging Housing Crisis

07:30 - 13 December, 2018
Japan's Bet on Adaptive Reuse to Alleviate an Emerging Housing Crisis, via Flickr. Image © Bo Nielsen
via Flickr. Image © Bo Nielsen

Half a century after the new suburban tract home was the dream of many a young American family, refurbished properties are gaining in popularity. This trend extends beyond North America, with exciting renovations of existing structures popping up all over the world, from Belgium to Kenya to China. The attraction to this typology likely lies in its multiplicity; renovations are both new and old, historic and forward-looking, generative and sustainable. 

These Crafted Bookends are Inspired by the Alleyways of Tokyo

11:00 - 4 December, 2018
These Crafted Bookends are Inspired by the Alleyways of Tokyo, © <a href='https://twitter.com/monde55212068'>Twitter user mode</a>
© Twitter user mode

Tokyo-based designer monde has created a series of bookends inspired by the narrow back alleys of Tokyo. As described by My Modern Met, the bookends convey the “dizzying feeling of wandering the city’s back alleys” through a mixture of laser-cut wood and lighting.

Clouds AO Unveils Floating Space Lab in Japan

05:00 - 15 November, 2018
Clouds AO Unveils Floating Space Lab in Japan, AVATAR X LAB. Image Courtesy of Clouds AO
AVATAR X LAB. Image Courtesy of Clouds AO

Clouds Architecture Office have revealed a new design for a space research lab that floats above a crater in Oita, Japan. Called AVATAR X LAB, the design was made for ANA Holdings Inc. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The lab aims to be part of ANA's AVATAR Vision, an endeavor to advance and pioneer real-world Avatar technologies, and JAXA's new research and development program J-SPARC. The lab was designed to advance understanding of space exploration and development.

Japanese Robot Capable of Installing Drywall by Itself

13:00 - 4 October, 2018
Japanese Robot Capable of Installing Drywall by Itself, HRP-5P Robotic Construction Worker. Image Courtesy of Japan Advanced IST Institute
HRP-5P Robotic Construction Worker. Image Courtesy of Japan Advanced IST Institute

Japan’s Advanced Industrial Science and Technology Institute have created HRP-5P, a humanoid robot that can perform common construction tasks, including installing drywall. As TechCrunch reports, HRP-5P uses environmental measurement, object detection and motion planning to perform various tasks. The robot may help in Japan's rapidly aging society where declining birth rates meets a lack of skilled construction workers.

4 Buildings Shortlisted for the RIBA 2018 International Prize

06:30 - 12 September, 2018
4 Buildings Shortlisted for the RIBA 2018 International Prize, Il Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) / Boeri Studio. Image © Giovanni Nardi
Il Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest) / Boeri Studio. Image © Giovanni Nardi

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has announced the shortlist of four finalist projects in the running for the 2018 RIBA International Prize. A biennial award open to any qualified architect in the world, the International Prize seeks to name the world’s “most inspirational and significant” building. Criteria for consideration include the demonstration of “design excellence, architectural ambition, and [delivery of] meaningful social impact.”

MAD Revitalizes Abandoned Japanese Mountain Tunnel with Elemental Art Trail

16:00 - 6 August, 2018
MAD Revitalizes Abandoned Japanese Mountain Tunnel with Elemental Art Trail, Light Cave (Water). Image Courtesy of Nacasa & Partners Inc
Light Cave (Water). Image Courtesy of Nacasa & Partners Inc

MAD Architects have completed their restoration work on the Kiyotsu Gorge Tunnel in Japan’s Niigata prefecture, transforming the historic lookout tunnel into a trail of artistic spaces. The “Tunnel of Light” was opened as part of the 2018 Echigo-Tsumari Triennale, cutting through 750 meters of rock formations to offer a panoramic view across one of Japan’s great landscapes.

Spotlight: Arata Isozaki

00:30 - 23 July, 2018
Spotlight: Arata Isozaki, Qatar National Convention Centre. Image © Nelson Garrido
Qatar National Convention Centre. Image © Nelson Garrido

Japanese architect, teacher, and theorist Arata Isozaki (born 23 July, 1931) helped bring Japanese influence to some of the most prestigious buildings of the 20th century, and continues to work at the highest level today. Initially working in a distinctive form of modernism, Isozaki developed his own thoughts and theories on architecture into a complex style that invokes pure shape and space as much as it evokes post-modern ideas. Highly adaptable and socially concerned, his work has been acclaimed for being sensitive to context while still making statements of its own.

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