My review of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion is now viewable online on Blueprint Magazine’s new website. The pavilion is by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, whose work I have been following for some years now. I was very happy to do this for the magazine, as I interviewed the architect in 2008 for their special Japan issue. I hope you enjoy the review. I have tried to give readers more of a sense of who Fujimoto is and what his work is about…I incorporate other critics’ remarks in my piece, but by far the best comment was made by my 7-year-old son: “it was really good but it was annoying that you couldn’t climb up to the very top!” (with an emphasis on ‘very’)

My review of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion is now viewable online on Blueprint Magazine’s new website. The pavilion is by the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, whose work I have been following for some years now. I was very happy to do this for the magazine, as I interviewed the architect in 2008 for their special Japan issue. I hope you enjoy the review. I have tried to give readers more of a sense of who Fujimoto is and what his work is about…I incorporate other critics’ remarks in my piece, but by far the best comment was made by my 7-year-old son: “it was really good but it was annoying that you couldn’t climb up to the very top!” (with an emphasis on ‘very’)

Lecture: Air as Architecture
Considering that my lecture clashed with Rem Koolhaas’ book launch taking place at the same building in the same evening (sorry, Rem, for not making your do!), as well as that my lecture room was tucked away on the 4th floor, where only two of the four main lifts could get up to (why?), we had a fantastic turnout of people last Monday.
For those of you who came to my lecture, thank you for coming. For others, I will give your a taster here. This is one of the photos I showed that evening - it’s a view out of Okoshikake or “Waiting Bench,” one of several garden huts found in the famous garden of Katsura Imperial Villa. Notice how the stepping stones that lead up to it do not stop at its threshold but continue on right through it and out. …These stones, in other words, whip us into motion.
This is just one example amongst many in which architecture is used to keep us moving in Japan, by circulating air through it, and ultimately transforming us, the users, in the process. One question was raised after my lecture, however, asking whether or not there was an inherent contradiction in Japanese architecture, as there was a move to keep it open and porous, whilst, at the same time, all the more efforts were made to try contain it and keep it locked away. I don’t think I managed to sufficiently explain then, but what I can say is this: the transformation that is expected to take place through the traditional Japanese spatial rendition - the journey through space as well as time - is still very much a prescribed one and I don’t see them as being necessarily contradictory; both are ways to exert and maintain some kind of control on our bodies and minds. In the modern era, we see all together different trends emerging but we should still consider what kind of control is being exerted and maintained.
…I think I could do a whole course on this - anyone interested in developing it with me?
Photo credit: Yoshiharu Matsumura

Lecture: Air as Architecture

Considering that my lecture clashed with Rem Koolhaas’ book launch taking place at the same building in the same evening (sorry, Rem, for not making your do!), as well as that my lecture room was tucked away on the 4th floor, where only two of the four main lifts could get up to (why?), we had a fantastic turnout of people last Monday.

For those of you who came to my lecture, thank you for coming. For others, I will give your a taster here. This is one of the photos I showed that evening - it’s a view out of Okoshikake or “Waiting Bench,” one of several garden huts found in the famous garden of Katsura Imperial Villa. Notice how the stepping stones that lead up to it do not stop at its threshold but continue on right through it and out. …These stones, in other words, whip us into motion.

This is just one example amongst many in which architecture is used to keep us moving in Japan, by circulating air through it, and ultimately transforming us, the users, in the process. One question was raised after my lecture, however, asking whether or not there was an inherent contradiction in Japanese architecture, as there was a move to keep it open and porous, whilst, at the same time, all the more efforts were made to try contain it and keep it locked away. I don’t think I managed to sufficiently explain then, but what I can say is this: the transformation that is expected to take place through the traditional Japanese spatial rendition - the journey through space as well as time - is still very much a prescribed one and I don’t see them as being necessarily contradictory; both are ways to exert and maintain some kind of control on our bodies and minds. In the modern era, we see all together different trends emerging but we should still consider what kind of control is being exerted and maintained.

…I think I could do a whole course on this - anyone interested in developing it with me?

Photo credit: Yoshiharu Matsumura

I’m working backwards in time…here is the link to the talk / symposium I participated with the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and others in 2010. It was organised by Architecture Foundation in relation to the Future Beauty exhibition at the Barbican. One of the most interesting comments made during the evening was by Fujimoto who said that Issey Miyake incorporated air into design, which possibly made his work very Japanese. I found a detailed review of the evening here.
Sophie Hicks (who is sitting next to me) and I actually made quite a contrast that evening because I was wearing a Mina Perhonen’s dress, which was black, thin & transparent, while Sophie’s Comme des Garçons gown from the 80s was white, very thick and well padded!

I’m working backwards in time…here is the link to the talk / symposium I participated with the Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto and others in 2010. It was organised by Architecture Foundation in relation to the Future Beauty exhibition at the Barbican. One of the most interesting comments made during the evening was by Fujimoto who said that Issey Miyake incorporated air into design, which possibly made his work very Japanese. I found a detailed review of the evening here.

Sophie Hicks (who is sitting next to me) and I actually made quite a contrast that evening because I was wearing a Mina Perhonen’s dress, which was black, thin & transparent, while Sophie’s Comme des Garçons gown from the 80s was white, very thick and well padded!