Friday, January 29, 2010

Japanese Architecture Banter-Modern Kyoto

This designer banterer started the new year with a short trip to Japan. In the coming weeks I will be posting some of the architectural highlights from my trip.

The architecture schools I attended concentrated mostly on the architectural history of Europe, the Middle East and Egypt. However, I have always been interested in Japanese architecture, from its influence on my favorite architect of the "big 3", Frank Lloyd Wright; as the home of one of my favorite modern day architects, Tadao Ando; the clean efficiency of such elements as the shoji screen, the Japanese garden and the Shinto-inspired use of water and rocks; and the compact, random, delightful way in which houses are crammed together.

While Kyoto is known as the home of traditional Japanese architecture, it is truly a city of ancient and modern. Some modern highlights:

Entrance to Oike Koto Building in Kyoto. For photo credit click here.

Oike Koto Building. For photo credit click here.

From visual observation, it is evident that the building codes are very different in Japan. Fire protection is king in the United States, and while I would very much appreciate this were I or my belongings stuck in a burning building, more lax codes in terms of fire allow for much more interesting conditions. One clever way that the Japanese provide for fire safety is by marking the operable windows with an upside down triangle, for easy visual inspection by the fire department.

The triangle marks the bottom right hand window as operable for the fire department.

Many of the traditional wood residences have wood screens or translucent sliding shoji screens. These not only provide privacy in a country where houses are very close together, but also control light and temperature. Smart, modern buildings also take advantage of this idea. The modern building shown below has a clear double curtain wall that is transparent during the day, with almost opaque screens that close at night.


  1. Interesting
    I loved the atmosphere and designer.. in total harmony !!

  2. interesting! I wonder who that guy is ... but he seems incredible. Can he design my room divider nyc?