Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Graduation Works // guest blogger

April and spring mark the termination of one cycle and the start of a new school year in Japan. During March, the graduation projects of architecture students from the Tohoku region were exhibited in the Sendai Mediatheque (by Toyo Ito). This was an incredible opportunity to view and possibly understand what notions architecture in Japan bases itself on: how do the students approach architecture, how is architecture even defined, in what directions do the professors push, how does the process unfold from a fragile idea into a material reality? I could not help to but to be touched by the minute level of the models, as expected. Some were almost like miniature puppet-houses. For instance, one could take out a book in a bookshelf in a model in 1:200. I was amazed by the scale of some projects, calling to mind less fortune directions of architectural history. Nevertheless, it was impressive how the most challenging shapes were worked in detail and made overall functioning spaces. On a superficial level I would say that there is a general "style" that outlines itself. The likes of SANAA, Sou Fujimoto, Junya Ishigami, Atelier Bow Wow or Tezuka come to mind in the spatial expressions, the shapes and materials. Still, the most inspiring and impressive feature, in my opinion, is the sensitive ambition that fuel these graduation works. It seems like the Japanese students are looking for a "new nature", in the words of Ryue Nishizawa. They are not afraid of searching for the ways in which contemporary life is defined and architecture by extension. They innovate. Coming from a French school this is an aspiration I have never been encouraged to pursue. Certainly, there are some doubtful points: the negation of the context, houses without roofs and walls that seem to defy all laws of gravity. However, is not a part of the architectural education to experiment and to question conventions? How else can we move towards an architecture more in sync with our time? This exhibition was a very pleasurable and inspiring experience. Unfortunately, due to copy right issues I cannot post any pictures that directly depict projects. Please enjoy the peek.