Moriyama House, Tokyo, 2005, Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Takashi Homma, photographer, © Takashi Homma.

New Ideas for Living in London and Tokyo

Canadian Centre for Architecture
1920, rue Baile
514-939-7026
Montréal
Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa
May 14-October 26, 2008

The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) presents an exhibition featuring recent architectural projects by Stephen Taylor in London and Ryue Nishizawa in Tokyo that propose new approaches to living in urban environments. Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa marks the first North American presentation of residential projects by Taylor and Nishizawa and reveals their distinctive solutions to the challenges of building homes in existing dense urban fabrics. The exhibition is organised by CCA Curator for Contemporary Architecture Giovanna Borasi in active collaboration with the architects.

London and Tokyo provide particularly relevant ground for case studies not only due to the scale and complexity of their respective built environments, but especially for the way in which their increasing densities call for a redefinition of urban living. While facing similar issues related to growth, the two cities occupy cultural contexts in which themes of proximity, privacy, community, and public space take on different meanings and require distinct solutions. Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa have developed new ideas for living borne of their respective cultures. Their innovative residential designs challenge conventional norms and offer approaches that simultaneously shape the life of the resident and the face of the city.

The exhibition is conceived in collaboration with Nishizawa and Taylor, who designed their components of the installation with original display furniture and new large-scale models. The architects’ projects are each presented in three galleries, adjacent and open to one another in order to establish relationships among respective works and between the two. On view are original drawings, large-scale renderings, models, books, and prints by established photographers. Nishizawa’s built projects were captured by Takashi Homma, Hisao Suzuki, and Ken'ichi Suzuki, and Taylor’s work by Simon Lewis, David Grandorge and Ioana Marinescu.

Stephen Taylor has developed his ideas for residential building on a range of scales, from individual houses integrated into inner city streetscapes to multi-units and a master plan for a district of London that mixes new buildings with existing structures. By establishing subtle relationships to the surrounding urban texture, his buildings are grounded on the street with simple but distinct façades separating public and private space. The exhibition presents a series of houses designed in London’s East End, as well as a new urban project mixing housing typologies near a redeveloped train station in Rainham Village, London.

Taylor’s work is characterised by the idea that residential projects shape, in his words, “the body of our city.” His individual homes and larger projects aim to define a place, realising their role as part of the public realm in shaping streets and communities. London’s increasing residential densities and political emphasis on “intensification” lead to Taylor’s interest in using urban surroundings to redefine proximity and privacy in his organisation of interior spaces.

The exhibition presents Taylor’s work through wall-mounted photographs, drawings, and posters, as well as models and objects on three large tables custom-designed by the architect for the CCA. Placed one per gallery, the specific design and orientation of the tables as well as the juxtaposition of models upon them establish a dialogue that reflects the interrelationship of issues in Taylor’s projects on a range of scales. His spatial arrangements of interior rooms influence the way he conceives external relationships between house and street. In his larger urban projects, Taylor builds neighbourhoods of mixed residences through clearly articulated volumes with subtle passages between them.

Ryue Nishizawa’s projects express his belief that the house should establish a close relationship between interior and exterior space, linking the two environments and creating an atmosphere within the house by bringing the city inside. Rather than providing a shelter from the city, the house is grounded within it, simultaneously absorbing and shaping the character of its surroundings. The complexity and density of the city informs the interior organisation of the house while its resident becomes a visible part of the city. Through this mutual exchange, Nishizawa contributes to the vitality of the streetscape and offers new ideas on how space inside the house is simultaneously space inside a neighbourhood.

Nishizawa describes his interest in creating buildings with “a new sense of values” to reflect and capture the character of the current digital age. The need to develop architectural models appropriate for a new, contemporary way of living within the city is captured in his houses that challenge traditional ideas of privacy and the organisation of space. The exhibition presents three of Nishizawa’s Tokyo houses, dedicating one gallery each to the Moriyama House, House A, and the unbuilt Garden and House.

Nishizawa approaches his work on two fundamental levels — how the building is to be used within, and what type of exterior environment the building will create. Moriyama House resembles a village, forming a independent cluster rooms connected by terraces and exterior courtyards open to the street. Similarly, the floor plan for House A is not defined by a cohesive exterior volume but by the sequential arrangement of differently scaled rooms. The close connection between resident and neighbourhood, and the radical challenge to traditional notions of privacy is at the core of Nishizawa’s new ideas for contemporary urban life.

A French/English catalogue accompanies the exhibition, featuring an essay by curator Giovanna Borasi as well as individual and collective contributions by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa. The volume also includes an essay by Peter Allison, Professor, London South Bank University, and a preface by CCA Director Mirko Zardini. The exhibition’s projects and installation are presented through approximately 150 colour reproductions on over 170 pages. Co-published by the CCA and Lars Müller, the catalogue will be available in June for $29.90 through the CCA Bookstore (www.cca.qc.ca/
bookstore).

A dynamic website interface at www.someideasonliving.
org hosted by the CCA accompanies the exhibition. Conceived as a platform for the exchange of ideas, the site gives local and international users the opportunity to both access and actively contribute content related to the themes of the exhibition. The site presents CCA research and material from the exhibition and catalogue while soliciting independent video, audio, images, and writing extending the exhibition’s scope. The user-contributed content may address aspects of the work of Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa or broader observations on the theme of “living in London and Tokyo.” Scheduled for launch in early May 2008, the website will evolve with continually added content beyond the duration of the exhibition.

British architect Stephen Taylor is Founding Director of Stephen Taylor Architects, and was previously partner at Houlton Taylor Architects established in 1993. Stephen Taylor Architects has realised commercial and private projects throughout Europe based on a commitment to sustainable construction and research in new technologies to ensure environmental responsibility. Taylor holds a master’s degree in architecture from the Royal College of Art in London, and has been a visiting critic at such institutions as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ), London South Bank University, and the Architectural Association in London. He is a consultant to the London Development Agency as a member of their Design Advisors Panel and a member of the Newham Design Review Panel. Taylor’s work has been featured in exhibitions at the Architecture Foundation and the Royal Institute for British Architecture (RIBA) in London, and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, among others. Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo at the CCA marks the first presentation of his work in North America.

Japanese architect Ryue Nishizawa is founding partner, with Kazuyo Sejima, of SANAA, established in 1995, and he has maintained a parallel independent office since 1997. SANAA is recognised for international institutional projects such as the Zollverein School of Management and Design in Essen, Germany; the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion in Toledo, Ohio; and most recently, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. Nishizawa’s independent practice is focused primarily on projects in Japan that develop new models for urban living. He holds a master’s degree in architecture from Yokohama National University in Tokyo, and has been a visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Princeton University, University of Southern California, Yokohama National University, and others. He has received numerous awards including the Kunstpreis Berlin (2007) and a Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale (2004). SANAA’s work is the subject of exhibitions at the Henry Art Gallery, Washington State University (2007), and the New Museum (2008). Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo at the CCA marks the first presentation of work by Ryue Nishizawa’s office in North America.

 

House A, Tokyo, 2006, Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Takashi Homma, photographer, © Takashi Homma.

Moriyama House, Tokyo, 2005, Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Takashi Homma, photographer, © Takashi Homma.

House A, Tokyo, 2006, Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Takashi Homma, photographer, © Takashi Homma.

House on Charlotte Road, London, 2008, Stephen Taylor, architect, David Grandorge, photographer, © David Grandorge.

House on Charlotte Road, London, 2008, Stephen Taylor, architect, David Grandorge, photographer, © David Grandorge.

House on Charlotte Road, London, 2008, Stephen Taylor, architect, Simon Lewis, photographer, © Simon Lewis.

Three Small Houses on Chance Street, London, 2007, Stephen Taylor, architect, Ioana Marinescu, photographer, © Ioana Marinescu.

 

House on Charlotte Road, London, 2008, Stephen Taylor, architect, David Grandorge, photographer, © David Grandorge.