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Type: Conference paper
Title: Travelling iguanas: cosmopolitanism in contemporary Japanese architecture
Author: Worrall, J.
Citation: Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) 28th Annual Conference, 2011, pp.1-10
Publisher: Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand
Issue Date: 2011
ISBN: 9780646558264
Conference Name: Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference (7 Jul 2011 - 10 Jul 2011 : Brisbane, Australia)
Statement of
Julian Worrall
Abstract: This paper relates tendencies within the recent work of younger architects in Japan to a discussion of cultural cosmopolitanism. The architecture of the emerging generation of architects in Japan displays a diversity of techniques and strategies. From the recoded vernaculars and readings of the urban landscape of Atelier Bowwow to the attenuated and purified minimalism of SANAA, from the hermetic elaborations of Sou Fujimoto to the algorithmic procedures of Junya Ishigami, the picture appears to be one of vigorous pluralism. Across the diversity of this work, however, a range of common attitudes can be discerned. Antipathy towards monumentality, a renewed interest in the social efficacy of architectural space and the hidden genetics of urban morphology, an inclination to find architectural analogies in scientific models and computerized simulations of natural processes, and, in contrast to earlier generations, a general indifference to the question of, Japanese-ness, are tendencies that are repeatedly encountered in the work of younger architects. This paper develops an account of these tendencies in terms of the larger phenomena of cultural globalization, with its attendant redrawing of the boundaries of cultural identity, projection, and reception, and its fostering of a sensibility of post-national cosmopolitanism. Such a sensibility sits in tension both with official cultural diplomacy efforts to define and promote, Cool Japan, abroad, and with symptoms of an inward-turning insularity under conditions of demographic and economic decline - the so-called, Galapagos Syndrome., Such tensions were evident at the, Venice Biennale of Architecture, the first to be directed by a Japanese architect. Through reference both to architectural and mediation strategies, the paper ultimately pursues the question of whether an architecture of cultural cosmopolitanism obviates the concept of, Japan, itself, or reinstates it in a different form.
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