Les Perspectives de la Mémoire, 1st prize @ 44th Nisshin Kogyo Competition: Architecture that bridges
XOPA architecture bureau
“Bridging” signifies, “connecting different places by drawing bridges”. Once the bridge is drawn over the river, the traffic of people and matter is born. Recently, we also call the connections among different networks bridging.
In short, to bridge means to connect two things that previously had no connection. Bridging is a concept that acts as a passage, crossing over the gaps and breaks, giving new characteristics to each entity.
If architecture can play a role in bridging, what would it be like?
What is architecture able to connect?
What was your work process from brief to concept to proposal?
We were contemplating and discussing our thoughts most of the time that we were working on the project. Neither of us wanted to design yet another building or structure that would be meant to represent the whole depth and complexity of human existence, or in this case, co-existence. Agreed on that we started thinking on the possible representations of the ideas mentioned above. After two or three weeks we have come to the conclusion, that nothing could express that depth and complexity – the bridging – better than a very complex and multilayered drawing that would also leave some space for the viewer’s imagination. Our goal was to find the equilibrium between clarity that is a natural quality of a good architectural drawing and narrative that gives us the freedom of interpretation.
Another week was spent to find the technique by which we would later distribute our memories on paper in order to comprise a landscape. After that we’ve made a draft drawing to test our ideas in terms of both concept and representation, and then moved to the final drawing. However we didn’t force ourselves to make decisions and most of the details of our work were resolved later when there was nothing else left to do.
What texts, case studies did you look to to develop and define your interpretation on how architecture can play a role in bridging?
We decided to avoid being too didactic and thus based our work on our personal experience, since our experience is the thing that we know the best. We were sure that we won’t be able to create anything new if we concentrate solely on social or structural engineering or a technology of any other kind. While working on this project we’ve stumbled upon a quote that appeared to sum up our idea in a very refined yet direct way:
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, see, this is new? It hath been already of old time, which was before.”
(Ecclesiastes 11:10, 11)
Since there were two of us we thought that it could be an interesting study to overlay our experiences – thus bridging us by means of architecture.
What defined the use of one drawing? what were the biggest challenges you faced when keeping to this one format?
It was specified to “complete all drawings, photo. etc on one sheet of thick drawing paper (like Kent paper) of A2-Size (420mm x 594mm)”. In its turn the actual paper format helped us to frame the boundaries of the commemorative landscape that is in fact ever expanding. It came out as a film camera shot, wherein is only a single space-frame for a given single time-frame.
What lead you to embark a more analogic approach through pen and paper? What is your take on this primordial tools when compared to the computer screen and programs as auto cad?
The importance of being slow.
We are convinced that architecture and whole design process is overdriven these days. The external forces primarily the current economics are escalating the gap between the desirable and the available. Digital tools are useful to keep up with the demands and pace of the market, though the criteria of efficiency or productivity are barely relevant to judge architecture. Being a temporal art (craft) it requires substantial time not only to be perceived and comprehended but also to be crafted.
To what extent should or could now drawing be enough to talk about each and every architectural artefact?
In this particular case we took the requirements to keep the written explanations to a bare minimum in fact to an absolute minimum. Our intention, perhaps, was to test the limits of communicating architecture, may it be bridged in silence?
What is the effect and purpose for the monochromatic palette?
Architecture blooms among and because of needs and regulations therefore each particular situation requires the use of specific visual language. In this occasion we somewhat freed ourselves from any preconceptions and engaged in graphic austerity as a conscious self-imposed restriction meant to focus us on the quality of spaces, architecture and the narrative. There was no need to impose more certainty in the work, it felt right to keep things obscure.
Monochromatic palette proved to be some kind of an Occam’s razor as “entities are not to be multiplied without necessity”.
How was the project itself the bridge between two architects? What roles does the drawing hold as bridge in between architect and viewer?
The idea of bridging is found on several physical and metaphysical layers.
The first layer – the metaphysical one, as mentioned above was the dialogue to overlay our experiences – thus bridging us by means of architecture. Then it was a physical aspect, as we were drawing simultaneously from the opposite sides of the paper. Lastly, there is an obscure bridge from us to the viewer or more precisely just an invitation to explore the landscape of our memories.
Feedback from the Jury
Kumiko Inui (Prof. at Yokohama National Univ., Y-GSA (Yokohama Graduate School of Architecture) , Established Office of Kumiko Inui)
“…This year, as in the past, the strongest project turned out to be from abroad. The winning project is the mysterious plan by Shukurov and Mikadze. The detailed drawing is explained only by the text of the header, and the diagram in the upper left corner. Perhaps it is the reconstruction of landscapes, buildings that once met or is this modern interpretation of Hadrian’s Villa? I agree that the title of the work explains the relationship with memory, so the scale of the images grows and shrinks quite freely. Moreover, I realized that this work is a collaboration of two architects. This time, among all participants of the competition, this work is the most polysemantic, where two companions are building a bridge from the past to the present, from a diverse area to the corresponding architecture.
Despite the fact that I would like the authors to explain this architectural space a little more, there was a feeling that the lack of information makes another person turn to the imagination, thereby creating a bridge from the author to the viewer. Honestly, I still want to know what kind of place it is.”
Koh Kitayama (Prof. at Hosei University, established “architecture WORKSHOP”)
“…I could not understand this project until the last moment. An attractive drawing, an intriguing image of a collage city, and what does it bridge? Or maybe it suggests to rely on the imagination of the viewer? Or maybe the creator’s intention and the viewer’s consciousness is connected through the drawing?”
Tomohiko Yamanashi (Senior Executive Officer Deputy Head of Architectural Design Department)
“…And in such a situation we were fascinated by the project of Oyat Shukurov and Mikheil Mikadze with their fantastic images, like a sort of bridge to the architecture that is stored in our memory.
In addition, the visual quality of this project is somewhat reminiscent of the artworks that we saw in the competitions held in the 1970s and 1980s in Japan – the ideas competitions, and reminds us of the time when we started to deal with architecture and tried to challenge it in the competitions of ideas.
I do not know how correctly we caught the idea of the participants, but this project fascinated us, and it was given the first place.”
Go Hasegawa (Visiting Professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, USA, Director of Go Hasegawa and Associates)
“…The settlement, which was imprinted in the memory of the authors, was composed of only fragments of structures and space. In other words, “Recollection of the settlement”, which manifested itself in the mystical figure. Fragments of images of different scales are superimposed on each other. Do not these “memories” come to mind sometimes to anyone who deals with architecture? It was thought that way. While most projects reflected precisely the “physical connection” of objects, this plan seemed like a fresh architectural idea.
Our commission has been working at Nisshin Kogyo for 5 years. During this time, the number of applications from other countries is rapidly increasing. This year, as in the past, the first place was taken by a foreign project. I feel that this is a turning point. After the Second World War Japanese architects trying to restore identity mainly studied from Western and European masters, that generation created what is called modern Japanese architecture. And now Japan holds a leading position in this field. I often hear that young architects and students around the world are interested in modern Japanese architecture and are influenced and inspired by it. The situation has changed, and now we are an example.
Nevertheless, when I look at young Japanese architects I do not have the feeling that a critical moment is taking place. This contest has given me the understanding that post-war Japan is a completely different thing, now the era begins when our efforts are simultaneously inspirational with the rest of the world.”