The Haiku Houses of Japan

An overview of Japanese House Design and why they are like solid Haiku Poems.

As a little follow up to some reading and thinking around the books Lost in Japan and In Praise of Shadows I think its worth looking at an aspect of Japanese architecture I love and I think could be understood better through the lens of the above books and a little analogy which might bring some different insights.

Ghost House by Datar Architecture (Photograph by Takeshi Yamagishi)

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Lost Japan by Alex Kerr

LostJapan: Last Glimpse of Beautiful Japan Paperback by Alex Kerr

Introduction

Lost Japan is a headfirst dive into Japan and its culture. Written by an American whose heart was captured by Japan from an early age and has spent his life getting to know it. So much so that the articles he assembled this book from were originally written in Japanese and translated from the Japanese not by Kerr but by another writer (Bodhi Fishman).

I think this is an important thing to notice about the book, that this is a book about Japan meant for the Japanese themselves. Its also semi-autobiographical telling the authors life through his discovery of Japan.

I believe Lost Japan has barely ever been out of print in English since it was published. It’s insightful, opinionated and hard to put down. Moreover if you read and liked In Praise of Shadows (Chapter two nods at the book), you will find a collection of articles in the same vein but perhaps more accessible and which brings our view of Japan a little more up to date to the beginning of the 2000’s.

So I recommend this book wholeheartedly see below for a few notes and some of the key ideas running through this book.

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Cosmoform

I love a good architectural zine and Cosmoform from Phibsboro press is the latest I have. It is a short essay about the building Met Éireann by Liam McCormick in Dublin.

I found out about it by listening to the podcast What do Builidngs Do All Day? Episode 6 Cosmoform an Architectural Podcast by Emmett Scanlon in which he was talking to the creators of the Zine Cormac Murray and Eamonn Hall.

The Building

Met Éireann (photograph by William Murphy)

The Building is Irelands’ Met Office HQ. Finished in 1979 it brought together the different Meteorological departments under one roof for the first time. The most striking thing about it is that it’s a truncated pyramid. Like a modern ziggurat it sits along a leafy brick Victorian suburb in Dublin.

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100+ Inspirational Design and Architecture Quotes

I have made a list of some of my favourite Architecture and Design Quotes. Some of these are all time classics and canonical, and some are much less well known. I have tried to organize them so the list has its own flow for example one of the most famous Architecture quotes ever is ‘Less is more’ by Mies Van Der Rohe.

I have added a few quotes below that which are replies to it like Robert Venturi’s ‘Less is a bore’ which is a direct repudiation of Mies’s quote and an example of his and Denise Scott Brown’s writing which as much as their buildings made them famous. It appears if you look hard enough even Ed Sheeran has an opinion about Architecture too!

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The WeeGee building by Aarno Ruusuvuori

A factory from the sixties, a constructivist classic converted with care in 2006 into and art and museum center.

WeeGee Art Gallery after restoration (Photo: Lewis Martin)

Details

  • Completed: 1st stage 1964, second stage 1966, third phase 1974
    as WeeGee art Center in 2006
  • Address: Ahertajantie 5, 02100 Espoo, Finland
  • Size: 23,000 sqm
  • Architect: Aarno Ruusuvuori

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Ways of Seeing by John Berger Book Notes and Review

Adapted in 1972 from a TV series this book revolutionised visual criticism and remains in print today some fifty years after it was written. It challenged conventional art criticism in a startlingly bold way and changed art criticism forever. Although it deals mostly with painting and photography some of the cultural criticism is I believe relevant to Architecture. It’s key arguments seem ever more urgent in the image hunger age of the internet. I think anyone interested in Architecture or Design or even mass media should read this book. Below is a summary and set of book notes with short review.

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The Monkey Castle: Kone and Silta Workers Housing

The Monkey Castle

I have been interested recently in early examples of social housing projects. There are some famous ones that have been well covered like Karl-Marx-Hof in Vienna, but Helsinki has a good many which are little known outside of the country.

I went to visit one such small gem in the Vallila area of Helsinki it is the Kone and Silta Workers Housing Block nicknamed Apinalinna or Monkey Castle which is a great example of early social housing in Helsinki. It shows how a good design that is well loved can resonate with its inhabitants down the generations.

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What Programs Architects Should Learn

A short guide to some key software in the architectural and design spaces and the jobs they do within different phases of a project.

Introduction

An Architect or designer no longer sits at his drawing board but in front of a computer using a host of programs to produce design and production information. My professional life so far has spanned between the digital and analog world. I learned AutoCAD R12 when I was still a student but coming into practice offices mostly were still operating somewhere between the drawing board and the computer.

In my first office out of Architecture school one side of the room was workstations and the other drawing boards. That didn’t last long though and now the question is not whether you are using CAD but whether you are using BIM.

This post is for the student looking out on the Architectural software landscape for the first time. Where to head to and how to navigate and how to avoid some common traps.

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Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne Review and Notes

Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne

A short Disclaimer

I studied at Newcastle University in the 90’s and Andrew Ballantyne was one of the lecturers there. He never took a project or taught a module I was in but I heard him talk and lecture many times. I remember him well, and would mark him as one of the better teachers I encountered in my education.

A Quick Overview and Introduction

What is Architecture and how can we start to build up a foundation of knowledge with which to understand Architecture better? Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne answers the first question. The second question requires a framework to be built up in order to apply an order to your understanding and this book will do that too in a clear and unfussy way.

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Delirious New York By Rem Koolhaas: The Film Version (and Review)

Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan by Rem Koolhaas

Opening shot / A black limousine pulls up in front of a glass skyscraper in Manhattan. The camera is so close to the base of the tower that it appears to go up forever disappearing into the clouds. The light bouncing off the plain glass elevations as though all the glass was reflected back, the only articulation of the building are the reflections of the clouds in the sky. Out gets Edward Norton the famous Hollywood actor, director, writer, polymath he is shown limping into the building.

The book Delirious New York was written in 1978 and pushed OMA and Rem Koolhaas into the spotlight where they have never been out of since. This book helped OMA became the architectural office probably with the most influence in the Architecture scene from the 90’s into the 2000’s.

Delirious New York is a retroactive manifesto of the Skyscraper and for New York City. The birth of which occurred around 1910 and its death some thirty years later. The manifesto is an unconscious programme embarked on in the city during its massive growth which only now Delirious New York properly reveals.

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