Japan-ness in Architecture (MIT Press) (英語) ペーパーバック – 2011/2/25
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Japanese architect Arata Isozaki sees buildings not as dead objects but as events that encompass the social and historical context -- not to be defined forever by their "everlasting materiality" but as texts to be interpreted and reread continually. In Japan-ness in Architecture, he identifies what is essentially Japanese in architecture from the seventh to the twentieth century. In the opening essay, Isozaki analyzes the struggles of modern Japanese architects, including himself, to create something uniquely Japanese out of modernity. He then circles back in history to find what he calls Japan-ness in the seventh-century Ise shrine, reconstruction of the twelfth-century Todai-ji Temple, and the seventeenth-century Katsura Imperial Villa. He finds the periodic ritual relocation of Ise's precincts a counter to the West's concept of architectural permanence, and the repetition of the ritual an alternative to modernity's anxious quest for origins. He traces the "constructive power" of the Todai-ji Temple to the vision of the director of its reconstruction, the monk Chogen, whose imaginative power he sees as corresponding to the revolutionary turmoil of the times. The Katsura Imperial Villa, with its chimerical spaces, achieved its own Japan-ness as it reinvented the traditional shoin style.
And yet, writes Isozaki, what others consider to be the Japanese aesthetic is often the opposite of that essential Japan-ness born in moments of historic self-definition; the purified stylization -- what Isozaki calls "Japanesquization" -- lacks the energy of cultural transformation and reflects an island retrenchment in response to the pressure of other cultures.
Combining historical survey, critical analysis, theoretical reflection, and autobiographical account, these essays, written over a period of twenty years, demonstrate Isozaki's standing as one of the world's leading architects and preeminent architectural thinkers.
Drawing on both his own extensive experience as a practicing architect and a broad grasp of world history, Arata Isozaki takes on the century-old debate over what is (or should be) 'Japanese' about Japanese architecture. This self-reflective critique is fresh and timely, and in the process provides provocative arguments about the shape of all Japanese history.(Henry D. Smith II, Professor of Japanese History, Columbia University)
Iconoclastic and erudite, opinionated and insightful, wily and contrarian this exciting book should be widely read not only by architects, but by anyone interested in Japan. Isozaki's essays are at once autobiographical and oracular; the collection, written over decades and discussing buildings spanning centuries, establishes his personal struggle with being Japanese in a global era as one that offers provocative insight into the culture of Japan yesterday, today, and tomorrow.(Dana Buntrock, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley) 商品の説明をすべて表示する
The book is a must if you are interested in understanding the roots of the metabolism, the reason under Kenzo Tange works and so on. Overall the success of Japanese contemporary architecture has its motivation in the struggle of many to during the postwar years which culminated, with the Yoyogi stadium in 1965 by the K. Tange hands.
While it is difficult assess if Isozaki kept his claims over the years it is possible to see an overall position on his stance in the commas. Before that,
let`s look at what is inside.
Firstly there is a persuading historical narrative of how stupid was the West (he does not write stupid, but is a natural consequence from any balanced mind) when he observed the oriental stuff coming from this new opened country. This was the birth of Japan-ness, the title of the book. A gaze from “outside”.
Then many essays are focusing in the years of modernism, how some Japanese fertile minds, in particular, Tange, Yamaguchi and Maruyama were addressing the problem of style. In those years the german architect – escaped from the brutal Nazis country – Bruno Taut played a paramount role in reading the Katsura Villa in Kyoto and the Ize shrine with “new eyes” that the Japanese would never had. Most of the essays address those two pivotal remnant buildings of the ancient times. How they were read by the contemporaries and how they became a paradigm for forging a national style.
This was part 1, to me a very interesting part since I did not know anything about it.
Part II is about Ise Shrine, famous even to the most mapless of the tourists as it is to rebuilt every 25 years till his foundation. Alone the essay of the description – chapter 10 : the archetype of veiling – of the Ise shrine is worthy the price of the book!
Part three is dedicated to Chogen reconstruction of Todaiji in Nara and contains a personal apologetical admiration for the Nandaimon (southern Gate),
and an “adult” interpretation of Villa Katsura.
Luckily I visited at least the Todai-ji in Nara, and even the miwa shrine thus sometimes I had a direct experience to understand better what Isozaki was writing about. On the contrary, many pivotal examples of this reasoning, like villa katsura and ise Shrine itself are to be visited. In that respect, the second book that amazon suggested was very helpful.
This is a book for people who can read essays, who likes to go deep on things. It has also some precise historical references to the western building, especially situated in Italy. Palladio, Vasari, Brunelleschi, Basilique in San Vitale (Ravenna) are among the others.
The pros are that gives you a fruitful look at what happened in Japan architecture and what was the prevalent attitude about style and details. On this matter, the last part of the book, where Isozaki compares the various misreadings of Katsura villa is enlightening.
I do not see outback on the book, but the fact I felt that Isozaki himself, despite his deep unraveling researches is still a Taut follower.
pg.242″ The design of the great gate is, one might say, as “compositional” as Ise or katsura, yet Nandai-mon is unburdened by any superficial or excessive element. What is visualized is principally the load-bearing system that runs through the whole structure in order to make it stand. It is a constructive system that counters the force of gravity. It is this feature of exposed structure that has gained a hold on me”
This feeling, like Taut’s observations on Nikko, is something that could be questionable.