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    Kazuyo Sejima at the Biennale 2010

    By Kamu Kakizaki
    Dec 10, '10 4:53 PM EST

    Double post today.

    I went to go see a lecture by Kazuyo Sejima at the Venice Biennale. I am sure everyone has seen loads of photos/videos of the Biennale, but here's something you might not have...

    (btw I felt like I was at a Lady Gaga concert with the hype of the crowds...)




    In all, the lecture was pretty cool. Sejima talked quietly and was modest compared to the other European panelists. From what I can remember she talked about five ongoing projects... one that interested me was a redevelopment of an island in Japan that has a population of less than a hundred, most of them in in their 70s or 80s. With the population soon the be declining and deceased, the future seems bleak. The client wants to make it a small tourist destination in the next decade. I'm wondering how "starchitect" prestige and press can actually develop minor (usually remote) areas, kind of like Gehry and Bilbao. The whole celebrity status of the Sejima, especially at the Biennale, seems plausible and mostly likely a strategic move by the client. This worries me in a way because it questions the role of architects. Are we driven by good architecture that responds to the climate, context, and regional traditions? or are we actually to pursue a signature style and global publicity?


    • that sounds like the project at echigo-tsumari art village. some very good art and archtiecture there - started for the same reason. i believe it has been successful. i guess the question is how much of a model it can be.

      Dec 10, 10 6:21 pm

      for tourism or community development, jump?

      Dec 10, 10 6:56 pm

      both. empty houses are converted to art installations, mvrdv and others do installations, make cool buildings (some of it really special even for japan), people come to visit and the remaining residents don't need to watch their home die slowly.

      japan's population is shrinking and ageing very fast right now so this kind of thing is playing out all over the country and nobody has a real idea about how to manage it. it is really a major concern.

      a number of communities have tried to make theme parks build malls, et cetera but the result is often bad instead of positive (one community went bankrupt).

      which is to say....well, it COULD work, but there is no formula and even with sejima there it could fail. it isn't entirely without precedent that it would succeed either. who knows maybe bringing sejima and nishizawa is the only way to get young people back into the countryside....

      Dec 11, 10 1:56 am

      in response to your question: Are we driven by good architecture that responds to the climate, context, and regional traditions? - I think that this is the purpose of architects, to respond to the times they are living in. To be of their time, meaning that in a way architects should strive to help develop communities through design. Modern society is such that the idea of pursuing a signature style and global publicity is very enticing; but at the same time there are so many social problems such as the one addressed here that architects should aim not at global publicity but at resolving these types of issues. (inevitable through their work some may gain global publicity) Also an example of this type of work is evident in the States, it was actually a ted talk :

      Dec 12, 10 3:32 pm
      Kamu Kakizaki

      @ solob1 -

      i've seen your TEDTalk before! interesting stuff, the one where you're living in /developing a rural community somewhere in the south?

      i think the question was too black and white; actually designers must do both at the same time in many ways. i guess i'm more curious how much this 'signature style' is increasing in recent times. i'm not talking from experience...I haven't lived architecturally though pre- 2005. but i'm guessing that general publicity of these 'star architects' is increasing; general publicity as in the general population. which means the role of architects could influence a broader community and culture.

      @ jump - its not echigo-tsumari.... i've been looking for it but i just can't remember the name.... I took some notes, its a small island in japan with 53 people living there, average age is 75 years old. it used to be populated to the thousands, but now that everyone has moved to the cities, a lot of the infrastructure is actually quite dangerous. I'll keep on looking, now its bugging me.

      have you gone to echigo-tsumari art village? i'm curious what your impression is. and do you think its successful?

      Dec 12, 10 8:41 pm

      it makes me think that perhaps sejima's 'starchitecture' prestigue could be a little different from the gehry's's not the 'flash sparkle shine look at me' type. her's is a real architect's architecture...which would only ever appeal to a very small segment of the population...and attract a even smaller percentage of starchitecture tourism. it wouldn't i don't think really gain momentum as the 'sejima' effect....

      Dec 13, 10 8:18 am

      @hematophobia, are you telling me anyone is actually going to the Toledo Glass Pavilion or the New Museum for the art?

      Dec 13, 10 12:17 pm
      Kamu Kakizaki

      @ hematophobia

      why else would one go to Ohio?

      Dec 13, 10 2:42 pm

      i have glass artist friends who go to toledo to see the art but they're the only ones ;-)

      @ luke, yeah i have been. quick trip. only saw a bit. one of my friends did installation there. he recorded the thoughts of locals on video and projected the interviews in an abandoned house.

      i think it is successful. but i just like the place and have no proof it has saved the place other than the fact it is still ongoing after several years.

      i don't know which one sejima is involved in. she and ryue just did some installations around naoshima that are pretty nice. i was involved on a project there with another artist friend and am pretty confident that project has been a success. however i had not heard it was ever about anything but art. maybe there is more to it all....?

      Dec 14, 10 5:05 am
      Kamu Kakizaki

      @ Jump. Found it, Inujima. Maybe that's the one you were talking about..

      Mar 8, 11 11:10 pm

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