CCA c/o Tokyo
Over the course of 2018-2020, we are working with Kayoko Ota, an architectural curator and editor based in Tokyo and commissioner of the Japanese pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale, to develop research and facilitate public engagement with our projects in Tokyo.
2018: Islands and Villages
To launch c/o Tokyo, we commissioned a multi-part documentary on the posturban phenomenon in Japan. Traveling to small villages and tiny islands far from Tokyo, Ota explores how, in place of the conventional system of commissioning, a new kind of exchange is emerging between architects and rural communities. The documentary—which features Toyo Ito, Atelier Bow-Wow, Kazuyo Sejima, Toshikatsu Ienari, and Hajime Ishikawa—premiered within a larger online editorial project focused on nonurban cities, providing the perspective of another culture to an ongoing CCA investigation.
2019: Meanwhile in Japan
Four decades ago, coinciding with the postmodern period in the West, a number of young architects in Japan challenged their professional status quo with experimental proposals for housing and big structures. As the country took a consumer-oriented, deregulatory turn, these architects took actions to liberate architecture from a regime of imported conventions and modernist concerns. “Meanwhile in Japan” is a series of interviews and conversations, aimed at documenting this moment through a new perspective and querying today’s generational struggle to redefine architecture in Japan.
Hiroshi Hara, Toyo Ito, and Itsuko Hasegawa are the protagonists of three sessions. Before each session, Kayoko Ota will join a team of scholars with diverse backgrounds including building systems design, history of modern Asian architecture and urbanism, social entrepreneurship, and sociology—Kozo Kadowaki, Koji Ichikawa, Yutaro Muraji, and Mikio Wakabayashi—to build a new understanding of each protagonist from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. This multi-disciplinary team will ask the architect-interviewee to share not only architectural works but also their archived notes, photographs, and other materials that reveal their thinking and concurrent activities. Based on this research, each session then frames an ‘intimate interrogation’ with its protagonist followed by an expanded discussion with additional guest critics.
The three sessions will each be held at a location where the featured protagonist keeps his or her archive or holds a personal attachment to a particular moment in history. These small and intimate spaces will host the work of an ongoing research, so the sessions will be closed to the public. Their results will be reported here on the website and also in a forthcoming book that documents the interviews, discussions, and archives of Hara, Ito, and Hasegawa.
Japanese architecture from this period is known to encompass the simultaneous emergence of various experimental architectural expressions. Though architectural works are internationally recognized, for example in the writings of Charles Jencks and Kenneth Frampton, discourse has generally remained on a formal level. “Meanwhile in Japan” seeks to unearth the aims and strategies of architects, beyond mere preoccupations with form and toward their quickly modernizing and urbanizing landscape, to question which tactics worked and which did not, what visions have survived, and what lessons can be learned.