Tag Archives: architecture

Why is Tokyo so ugly, but how can it still generate such fantastic architecture?

The question for 2008, and here is my (easy) answer:

1. Japan has the highest pro-capita rate of architects, of the 1.2million registered architects world-wide Japan has over 300,000,

2. There are very few aesthetic regulations: anything goes,

3. In the chaos architects work hard to make their buildings stand-out,

4. Tokyo has some of the world’s most daring and cash-rich clients,

5. Japanese construction companies (not only the major ones) are the world’s most advanced,

6. Buildings have an average life-span of around 30 years,

7. The city has been destroyed many times over (and most likely will be again soon).

Architecture and methodology

When one thinks about architecture and methodology "architectural programming" or brief formulating" come to mind. These are the techniques for formulating a creative process. As Robert Kumlin has written an excellent book on the subject of architectural programming, so I will not touch on it here.

The creative process is only one issue of the spectrum I have in mind when using the word methodology. At Waseda I thought for six years methodology to first year students, and we looked at the various methodological ideas and systems, such as Aristotle’s method of induction, phase space or Kepler’s backflips to make mathematical relations fit natural phenomena.

What I am interested in as I write about methodology and architecture, is to see the shifts that have been taking place within the process of architecture as a system. (I have written about this in the book: eBussines and Workplace Redesign) When we talk about architecture as a system then we need to look at what is happening both within as well as at the forces outside of architecture. I believe that there have always been two, opposing forces in place: internal and external. With internal and external I don’t mean the interior and the exterior of the space, but an entangled kind of yin-yang duality that pushes the process of architecture along. And with process I mean a persistent structure or a quality that follows a Darwinian path. This stucture is an evolutionary process that modifies the hierarchical elements of architecture slowly but at certain points the structure takes on catastrophic proportions. Our main interest thus should be towards these "modifiers". The internal and external forces are what create the shifts within the system.
Even though the system will remain open ended, in itself as a methodology it is closed. It is however important to take into consideration that these internal as well as external modifiers have always been dormant within the system, there is nothing new, and as such the system is complete. The changes are taking place only in the hierarchical interrelationships within the system.

The question of architecture and methodology really is: What is driving the formulation of our spaces?

Let us for example look at Buckminster Fuller’s methodology. Here we can see how internal and external factors shape Bucky’s design, and through his 4D thinking we can see that internally his focus has been on ways to reduce materiality while creating higher structural strength, what he calls “tensegrity”. External factors are, for example, his ideas for the Wichita house where a factory assembly line that during WW2 was building bomber planes, Bucky envisioned to be changed to a house-building plant.
I will add some more examples later on, as I think this is unchartered territory. It will tell us from a historical perspective the contribution certain architects have had on the progress of architecture. I wonder whether we would be able to able to pinpoint the catastrophic shifts within the system when we map enough of these modifiers?