Travel Blog: Arcspace In Japan
By Vibeke Hjortskov Knudsen
Wooden architecture with beautiful carpentry details, futuristic mega structures, visionary residential architecture, a round museum and trees with flowers everywhere. Arcspace just returned from a trip around Japan, perfectly timed with the sakura/cherry blossom season. Below is a report with images from our visit.
Japan has a long tradition of building with wood. Carpentry skills have been developed over the years to an extremely high technical and aesthetic level, and their joinery work without the use of any nails or screws are very inspiring. On our walks around Kyoto and Tokyo we noticed many beautiful wooden buildings – from old temples to everyday architecture and modern buildings.
It is easy to spend hours inside the Kyoto Station, designed by the Japanese architect Hara Hiroshi. The building opened in 1997 and is one of the largest in Japan. Besides being a transportation hub it also contains many shops, a hotel, a movie theater, restaurants and several local government facilities. It has 15 different levels, and you get the best overview of the architectural complexity in themain hall covered by a giant exposed steel beamed roof. A long series of escalators take you away from the busy main hall to the peaceful roof terrace and observation deck on top of the station.
In 2004 The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art by Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA opened in Kanazawa. Kanazawa is a few hours train ride away from Kyoto. The museum is located in the center of Kanazawa. The strong impression of openness is striking – a circular building on a grass lawn with integrated artwork. There is no main entrance; the round building and park are accessible from multiple directions. A large part of the museum and permanent art installations like Leandro Erlich’s “Swimming Pool” and James Turrell’s “Blue Planet Sky” have free public access. Inside the open circular plan, white cubes of various dimensions create galleries, rooms, courtyards and corridors – almost like a cityleaving the visitor to decide a route through the museum.
A tower structure of concrete capsules with circular windows stacked on top of each other. Our first stop in Tokyo was The Nakagin Capsule Tower in Shimbashi – an example of Japanese Metabolism. This first example of capsule architecture was completed in 1972 and designed by Kisho Kurokawa. It was designed to house businessmen and women – who either missed their trains or needed to remain close by their work – in small but functional capsule units. The building has sadly not been well maintained, during our visit it was covered by a safety net – and its future is uncertain.
The artificial island Odaiba was originally made for defensive purposes in Tokyo Bay in the 1950s. Later in the 1990s it was redeveloped as a city for futuristic living. Today Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment district and the futuristic feeling is still here – from arriving to the island with the automated elevated monorail, Yurikamome to walking around the mega structure of the Fuji TV building by Kenzo Tange Associates. The headquarters of Fuji Television moved into the new Fuji TV building in 1996. The building is a mega grid structure with towers connected by pedestrian bridges or “sky corridors” and an observation deck shaped as a giant sphere fixed 123 meters above ground with public access and views over the Tokyo Bay area.