1. Column index

JA 2005-SUMMER2005.07

When commenting on architecture, references are frequently made to particular styles, using terms such as Le Corbusier-style or Mies-style or Wright-style. While vague, these do denote characteristics of the architecture. However if these ”resemblances’’ are eliminated, they all just become identical inorganic spaces. Naturally, each designer’s individuality is strongly expressed in the details of architecture, which show defined characteristics, and it is precisely through mimicry of the details that these become architectural style.
My generation was taught that the appearance of architecture comprises a continuous range of details, from the shape of the doorknobs to the expression of the spaces. However, in a present day, there is a huge variety of standard products available, and looked at in terms of performance, cost, and safety, this is an era that allows infinite selection and combination. At some point, I myself have also noticed that I have begun to unconsciously select and combine standardized manufactured products during my daily design work.
It would be rather irrational to reject the use of standardized products. However, even if their performance can be guaranteed, naturally the individuality of the architecture is diminished. On the other hand, rather than this anonymity, I have recently been recalling the confidence and security of seeing the faces and histories of designers and producers in every object. Given the lack of taste in manufactured standard products and the virtues of the warmth and simplicity of resembles the eras in which an ethical basis was established for architecture, motivated by the Arts and Crafts movement, connected with the Bauhaus, and also John Ruskin’s advocacy of creating beauty through handcraft.
I recently had the opportunity to see the architecture of Alvar Aalto, Aalto’s architecture itself ranges from the future to details, with no off-the-shelf components. In this way, individuality and worldview are transmitted as the physical experience of spaces that transcend time, causing me to be deeply moved and feel very comfortable. It reaffirmed the importance of his individuality. A house is provided for a specific place and client, and is always unique in the world. Still, in the relationship between architecture and its details, it is the parts that people can touch that are extremely close to their sensitivity, and style accumulates as a result of experiments and experience with such details. I think these are important elements that transcend function to govern a comfort that resonates with spirit and sensitivity. This is perhaps an era in which individuality is no longer required, but for that very reason, especially in a house closely related to one’s daily life, I want to achieve continuity from the spaces to the details.