Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
I ran across an interesting situation as I treasure-hunted Professor Buntrock's Kyoto recommendations. A section of the city (and probably more, but I've only been here half a day) is rife with covered shopping streets. They are much more extensive than the ones I encountered in Tokyo. The arcades are simple in themselves--simply glass roofs over narrow lanes--but when the streets open up (as one does in the image to the right), sometimes the roofs continue and take on tectonic lives of their own.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
"Japanese linear village: a beautifully articulated spine of growth. Each of the units that is repeated along the street has similar elements: a large communal entry, house, courtyard, and fields. This kind of village is universal and frequently seen in the East." --Fumihiko Maki, Notes on Collective Form
I really wanted to see this village but Maki-San told me that he had gotten the image from a colleague and didn't know where it was. In any case, rural streets widened for automobiles have disrupted or destroyed most traditional linear developments. Luckily, Gunter Nitschke cites the same image (and provides a figure-ground plan) in his 1966 article on "ma" in the magazine Architectural Design. Its name is Igia, although I'm still not sure where to find it.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:48 AM
Fumihiko Maki's Hillside Terrace, an understated manifesto on "collective form" developed over the course of 25 years. Maki replaced the Metabolists' overscaled armature--such as that of Tange's Tokyo Bay Project--with intimate inter-related spaces organized across compositional linkages.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:33 AM
Friday, February 23, 2007
Sad news from the homefront--one of my cats, Grace, died today. She was 15 and one of the sweetest souls I've ever known. As long as she could nestle up against somebody--person, cat, dog--she was happy and the world was at peace. I took this picture of her the day I left for India. The amorphous black beneath her is my dog Bubba, who has a bit of a weight problem. She was his constant companion. We'll all miss her.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 4:02 PM
Monday, February 19, 2007
The last few days I have enjoyed the distinct honor of overlapping travels with Ivan Valin, one of the other Branner fellows. Japan is as comfortable with scale shifts as I am with my wide-angle lens so on the left is Ivan in Tokyo International Forum (you might have to actually click on the picture to be able to see him) and on the right is Ivan in the Fuji TV building (he's in the middle of the frame, colored in red).
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 7:45 AM
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Thursday, February 15, 2007
The promenade's lamentably abrupt end as a freeway ramp slices through it (colored in red). The image illustrates what Fumihiko Maki refers to as linear segmentation; fragments of urban development organized along linear topographic features. Often in a case such as this the pedestrian path is reconnected via raised or lowered walkways (you can see from the building spacing that the canal continues into the distance), but here I had to walk about two hundred yards to navigate the barrier.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:41 PM
This waterway runs close by the office I'm visiting. Recently revamped, it presents a deftly executed recall of Tokyo's canal-centric past and provides an atmospheric promenade even without spring's blossom effervescence. The water is only about two feet deep and its ridged surface is created by concrete ties lined perpendicular to its flow.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:18 PM
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
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I'm going to upload a few of my sketchbook pages now that I've had the luxury of getting them scanned. This is a plan of my first room in Delhi; I make a sketch like this wherever I stay....they're not that exciting but it's amazing how many memories they can conjure.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 5:13 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The image series chronicles the completion and development of Tokyo's crucial inner railway ring, the Yamanote Line (marked in red). The Yamanote ring was completed in 1924. Although it was not preconceived, once in place it provided the mechanism of
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 3:45 AM
Convenience stores overlaid on Tokyo's transportation network. The commercial catchment area of a convenience store--determined according to pedestrian access--is five minutes on foot. Convenience store distribution closely coincides with population distribution. The main commodities in convenience stores are various pastries and miscellaneous goods for daily life. However, utilizing their network character and walking distance locations, it has recently become possible to use them for bill payment and small parcel shipping (source: The Japan Architect 63 : Urban Design Strategies for Shrinking
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 3:37 AM
Monday, February 12, 2007
Two other common examples of information display. On the left is a magazine advertisement hanging in a subway car. It's basically the front page of the magazine combined with its table of contents; all the headlines you can follow up on if you stop at a newsstand and buy the product. On the right is a typical commercial building with a vertical series of signs. Each sign has its respective floor number and the name of the shop on that floor. The signs align with an elevator core, which opens to the street.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 3:19 PM
Tokyo is a confusing place and it's reassuring to know that other people need help as well. Directional signage proliferates and the Japanese tend to be graphically savvy. Maps, floorplans, and building sections proliferate in cartoonized and diagrammatic form. The image on the left is a diagrammatic section of a large department store showing what is sold on each floor and placing the vertical circulation. It seemed to be legible to the lady reading it although she did spend an awful long time looking at it. The image on the right is an interactive touch-screen map of the area around Shibuya. These are new. I filled out a questionnaire and got a free bottle of tea for trying it out. It works in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese and can even download directions to your cellphone. It didn't help me find the bookstore I was looking for, but it did have all the convenience stores marked according to seven or eight different companies. There's a veritable cloud of convenience stores in Tokyo so that's the one category I can't imagine people would need help with, but its inclusion fits the culture perfectly.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 3:07 PM
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Another excellent example of Tokyo's layering. At the top of the picture is a raised highway. Under that is a raised pedestrian walkway. Under that is about twelve well-spaced lanes. And the man in the center of the image is cleaning skylights to a shopping center below, called Yokohama Porta, that spreads beyond the sum of those roads. I've colored the skylights and passageways red that connect below to the veritable city of consumption teeming beneath the ground.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:37 AM
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Tokyo is a layered city. The golden light to the left comes from a collection of stores embedded in the above-ground Japan Rail's Ueno Station. The small white tower to the right is a ventilation shaft from the below-ground Tokyo Metro Station. The round, red sculpture toward the center of the image rises from a broad, raised public walkway that spans several directions over the busy intersection below. Behind the sculpture is a raised highway that, in turn, spans the pedestrian walkway. In the upper left corner of the image is a typical highrise practice--atop most slim city buildings sit glowing billboard boxes to project products in every possible direction. Let's review that vertically: metro to road to station to walkway to highway to highrise to advertisement. Extraordinary.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:18 AM
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
I just had to put this image up for a little while. For years I've seen the word "air" pillaged by the beauty salon industry for its resemblance to "hair." I've passed many a "Hair Port," "Hair Force," and and the like along the generic American road. This is the first time I've ever seen that relationship reversed and I find a certain beauty to that. The sign marks a travel agent's office and Air DO is apparently a commercial airline. I have no idea if any intention was involved.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 4:40 AM
Monday, February 5, 2007
Spectacular by day, phenomenal by night. The streets beyond the plaza are narrow, pedestrian-scaled, and comprehensively lit by streetlights, advertisements, and shopfronts. With its tightly packed restaurants, gaming arcades, and electronic stores, the network handily diffuses the plaza's momentary mass.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 4:28 PM
Tokyo's great urban spaces are just outside the stations rather than in them. Gluts of technologically-savvy advertising address arriving passengers from across the intersection, where they accumulate until the green light glows behind the silhouetted man with a hat. Then, for thirty seconds or so, the space is flooded with people moving in every direction. Cross-walks criss-cross the space as well as skirt it.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 4:21 PM
The station lies beyond the eye-shaped panels, sandwiched vertically between lanes of traffic. I took this picture from a raised pedestrin walkway that negotiates the expanse of the intersection's distended geometry. The station's vaulted roofs are about as unified and monumental as its architecture gets, compressed and interpenetrated as it is by the city around it. This not by the miraculous machinations of urban dynamics--train stations are often private developments and coupled with department stores at their inception. Commerce, packaged to maximum efficiency, dominates transit space.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 4:14 PM
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Here is the shrine complex within a 1500' x 1500' square. It's embedded within one of the densest urban fabrics I've ever experienced. I've indicated where the photograph was taken with blue, facing west. Also note the plaza across the street from the complex : this open space addresses the shrine without serving as a gathering space. During the day it creates an eddy in the traffic's flow.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 7:02 AM
This Sikh martyr shrine caught my attention for the way it co-opted Chandni Chowk's portico system to extend religious space into the secular realm. I have colored the shrine's portico--as well as its extension into the street--with red. I made the mistake of trying to walk along the colonnade as if it was public space and was rewarded with a firm reprimand. The basin at far left between the portico pillars is for ritual washing and the platform is where one has to take off one's shoes before entering the complex. To pass by the shrine, one has to walk in the street, as the fellow is doing in the photograph.
Posted by Andrew_Ballard at 6:52 AM