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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rediscovery Good Japan ~Vol.4

Japan is well known as a country where small tiny islands gathered up with intensely dense population. The size of entire country is just 1/25th of the United States, but its population density is 10 times more.
Naturally, it is easy to imagine Japanese land space comes to very limited for the people to live in. 
In the major cities, houses stand literally an inch apart from one another and the size can be as small as 36 square meters.
Regardless, their houses still function as home to them and they dwell within.

Throughout Japan, you can find interesting architecture from the past and contemporary time period and it creates sense of community that seems to be timeless. 

Tadao Ando, a Japanese architect, always focuses on the nature of how people live.
 He is no doubt one of the greatest architects in today's architecture field.
He was born in Osaka, Japan in 1941 and became an architect by learning everything himself without having official education.
Ando was a professional boxer before becoming an architect but he visited Teikoku Hotel in Tokyo that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and intensely fell into architecture world. 
Becoming an architect in Japan is no difference from becoming a doctor for its world's most strict building code because of constant earthquakes and natural disasters.


His famous use of concrete for his architecture now has spread all over the world.
Osaka, where the architect is from, though still has many of his work.
One of the most memorable work of his I've visited so far was his Church of the Light in Ibaraki, Osaka.


It is a small charch.
Tadao Ando. Church of the Light, Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan, Plan. 1989
Plan Image: http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=341


Left: Facing altar and the wall of the cross cut  Right: The side wall 
 
I visited in the evening of Christmas, which was open for public so that I, even non-Christian self, could come in. The church, which was built within a very tight budget that Ando initially proposed that the building may not even have a roof, was rather small that not all the people in the church could sit, but the concrete structure that was surrounding those simple wooden benches surprisingly felt warm and welcoming.
And it also felt stoic at the same time.
The building has a wall with cross cut out that brings the natural light.
Since it was at night, I could not see the light coming through the slits but it was still powerful and impressive bold idea of Ando.
 
Left: Wall with cross cut out exterior view     Right: Side of the church exterior view


And this is how it is supposed to look during the daytime.

 Image from http://www.behance.net/gallery/church-of-light-study/821969 

Ando's Church of the Light successfully brings the sense of serenity and spirituality to the space with the solid cold concrete walls and the light coming through the cross cut.

 Ando's talent is unquestionable but I also think his charm is his personality.
I happened to be in one of his lectures at an university in Osaka one time.
He surely was charismatic and passionate.
I had read his books and heard about how intense he was so I expected him to be very serious and more like a stiff man like his concrete architecture.
Turned out, he was a true Osaka-jin (people from Osaka.)
He was funny, witty and obviously a very experienced speaker.
One time, he goes "You know, the Suntory museum I built in Nanko (near Osaka-kou, bay area) is sadly closed now...because you guys didn't go!"


Pictures of Suntory Museum-Very sadly, it was closed in 2010..because we didn't go..

He was also tough at the same time too, just as he was saying how useless people who are born post 1975 because they are given everything and spoiled.
He was brutally honest and very critical about today's Japanese people.  
He explained how important it is to interact with people in the community and many of his projects are intended to help bring the communities for the people.
That notion of togetherness is so of the heart in human.
He believes in "human power" even though all the technological developments made our lives much more convenient and changed the way how people interact with each other.
His ideas of human core is something that I always find in his work.
I really admire Ando and his work and am secretly proud that he is from my city, Osaka.


Next week is the last series of Rediscover Good Japan.


Thanks for reading. 
And Happy Halloween!

 
日本は皆さんご存知の通り一億人以上の人口を持つ小さな島国です。その面積はアメリカの25分の1、しかしながら人口密度は何とアメリカの10倍になります。
故に各々の確保できるスペースというのは限られています。
大都市では家々が隣接して建ち並び、文字通り隣り合わせの状態です。
しかしながら不思議にもちゃんと生活できているので海外の建築家達には日本のスペース使いのアイデアが興味深くて常に注目されています。

日本が誇る建築家のひとり、安藤忠雄は人がどうやって暮らすのかにいつもフォーカスしています。
彼は1941年に大阪に生まれ、独学で建築家となりました。
プロボクサーとなるも、かつてフランクロイドライトがデザインした東京の帝国ホテルを訪れた時に衝撃を受け、建築家になる事を意識しだしたそうです。
日本のように地震国で自然災害に頻繁に見舞われる環境で建物を建てるという事が
世界で一番厳しい建築基準を生み出し、建築家になる事自体、医者になる事とそんなに変わらないんじゃないかと思う程厳しいものである事はよく知られています。

彼の代名詞でもあるコンクリート製の建築物、今や彼の建物は世界中にありますが、
彼の出身地でもある大阪にはかなり多く彼の建築物があります。
私が今迄訪れた安藤の建物の中で今のところ一番印象に残っているものも、大阪府茨木市にある光の教会です。
 Tadao Ando. Church of the Light, Ibaraki, Osaka, Japan, Plan. 1989 
Plan Image: http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=341


 
写真左:外観からの十字 写真右:サイドの壁の切り込み


こちらの写真が日中の教会内の様子です。

 
 Image from http://www.behance.net/gallery/church-of-light-study/821969

安藤の光の教会はコンクリートの冷ややかな壁から生み出される
神聖で崇高とも思えるストイックで静かな空間に、十字に開かれた外壁から差し込む光によってある意味この世界からかけ離れたような空間を作り上げる事に成功しています。

安藤の才能はまぎれも無く本物でありますが、私は彼の魅力はその人物像にあると思っています。一度、彼が大阪にある芸術大学で講義を行ったときに出席する機会がありました。彼はとてもカリスマ性があって、同時にとても情熱的でした。
講義の前にも彼の本を読んだりしていたので、とても強烈で厳しい人だと予想していました。確かにその予想は当たっていましたが、それよりも彼が本物の大阪人である事に驚きました。
実際大変雄弁で講義慣れされてるようで話も面白く、彼の建築のコンクリートの様に
冷たい人なのかと思っていたらそれは全くの反対でした。
彼の建てたサントリーミュージアムの事について話していたときに、
「私が建てたんですけどね、悲しいことに閉館してしまったんですね。。。あんたら行かんかったから!」と言い出したり、なかなか面白い方でした。

しかしながら手厳しい事は確かで、1975年以降に生まれてきた日本人は全てを与えられて甘やかされて育って使えない、等
何とも正直で毒舌な安藤節炸裂で、現代の日本人に対して愛情を混めて批判的でありまし
た。
そして人とのコミュニケーションがどれほど大切かを熱弁して彼の数あるプロジェクトが
コミュニティーを再生させる事に焦点をあてている事等を話しました。
そのような、コミュニティーに属する、という一体感は人間の持つコアにとってとても大切だと思います。
たとえテクノロジーが発展して、人とのコミュニケーションの形が変わりつつあろうとも、彼は人間力を信じています。
私は安藤の建築物にはその力があるといつも思っています。
そして彼の作品をいつも尊敬して見ています。同じ大阪出身のものとして誇りに思ってもいます。

来週はシリーズ最終回です。お楽しみに。

今回も読んでくれたひと、ありがとう。
そしてハッピーハロウィーン!

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