Coping with instabilities - lessons from Japanese architecture

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This paper offers insight into the role of architecture in coping with instabilities. At its centre is a second generation of Japanese architects who came to maturity after World War II. They questioned the International Style, and asked for a return to architecture in the image of the early twentieth century, a born-again modernism that, while being modern in the Western sense of the term, attempted to combine modernism with tradition. It offers particular attention to the architect Arata Isozaki (born 1931) who contributed with insight into the puzzle of Tokyo’s robustness and its unique capabilities in coping with eruptions and sudden changes. Transforming ruins into a city for the future, he argued, is not merely achieved by replicating the International Style it needs the inclusion of a rather stable formula for the construction of image schemes. This implies a particular Japanese motif, a Japanese idea about an ‘in-between’, place and occasion means an ‘in-between’, the Japanese term ma. The final part of the lecture considers ma in its quality as 1) a formula replicated in different cognitive domains, in language, visual perception, abstract ways of reasoning, emotions and actions, and 2) as a formula for a ritual choreography of the construction of urban sanctuaries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date26 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sep 2014
EventGoverning the Urban - Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden
Duration: 26 Sep 201426 Sep 2014


SeminarGoverning the Urban
LocationMalmö University

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