By commissioning seven contemporary architects from Japan to create museum installations, the organizers of this new show at Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art found themselves facing the question of where, rather than what, this thing we call architecture is. Fittingly, they gave the exhibition the title Where is Architecture? Seven Installations by Japanese Architects.
Atelier Bow-Wow’s anonymous animal forms made from intersecting arches came as a response to the observation that while there’s no sign prohibiting them from doing so, visitors to the museum always avoided walking on front lawn. They wanted to create a welcoming meeting space at this museum entrance that would be connected to the city life and natural surrounds. The museum’s closest metro station is Takebashi, which literally means ‘bamboo bridge’, so for this project, titled Rendez-vous, the architects turned to the material of untreated bamboo, loved for its flexibility, strength and capacity to create semi-transparent spaces of overlapping lines where light and shadow interact.
Once inside the museum, the first work we encounter is a paper structure by Ryuji Nakamura that appears to have massive volume without any weight. Comprising 10000 tiny pillars composed in triangular prisms, Cornfield is arranged so that the internal patterns evolve continuously as you navigate your way around it, and its entirety cannot be seen at one time.
In the next room is Hiroshi Naito’s Red Stripes work, comprising two hundred laser beams projected on the floor of an otherwise pitch-black room (see here). The exploration of the architecture of light continues with Hiroshi Kikuchi’s work one day in a room, where a small model of a room rotates around a fixed source of light, simulating the earth’s relentless twenty-four hour diurnal cycle and showing how built spaces change constantly with the configuration of light.
The exhibition culminates with inside in, a survey of Toyo Ito’s pioneering work with materials and form, presented in a beehive-like matrix of interconnected polyhedrons reminiscent of his plans for the Toyo Ito Architecture Musuem, scheduled to open in Imabari in 2011. Modeled on fractured crystals, the geometric spaces are devoid of right angles or corners for things to hide in, giving a feeling of coinciding enclosure and openness.