The Cube

 

 

 

“Nobody likes working in a cube.” Considering how many different kinds of office spaces I’ve had the misfortune to have to inhabit, if you don’t like your cube, trust me there are worse alternatives. Large cubes, small cubes, monitor on top of old drafting tables, individual desks, monitor on secretary’s hutch.  If there’s a good, bad and ugly to offices, I’ve been there.

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In Japan, Modernism Has No Chance In The Face Of Change

The NY Times ran this piece a while back and my dad pointed it out to me, knowing my interest in Japan.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/t-magazine/hotel-okura-tokyo.html?_r=0#

Apparently the author is upset that the Hotel Okura is rebuilding. Apparently a lot of people are.

http://digg.com/video/hotel-okura-closing

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/multimedia/2015/09/03/video-2/video-closing-of-hotel-okuras-main-building-aug-31-2015/#.VehYCWCFNYe

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2015/06/06/style/refusing-check-hotel-okura/#.Vs37h2D2YaJ

http://www.hotelokura.co.jp/tokyo/en/

Hotel Okura Tokyo: A last look

https://www.google.com/search?q=hotel+okura&rls=com.microsoft:en-US:IE-Address&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwigsNbDiJHLAhUKKCYKHci9Bt8QsAQIUA&biw=1848&bih=860&dpr=0.8#tbm=isch&q=hotel+okura+lobby&imgrc=_

 

The New York Times article acts as if this a loss of history and as if the Japanese never preserve anything.  Well I don’t consider modern buildings built in the 1960’s historical, and it isn’t hard to find all sorts of old buildings in Japan or Tokyo, for that matter. Still Japan doesn’t have the sense of permanence in structures that many nations do.  If you look at even the oldest structures in Japan  they tend to have a sort of temporary feel to them. It’s the difference between elegance and simplicity of a Budhist temple and bulk and majesty of the pantheon or a gothic cathederal.

I’ve posted about Tokyo Before. It’s a city of contrasts. Of course you have to get out and explore the city, something the New York Times seems have a problem with.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/dear-ny-times/

 

And sometimes it rushes a bit to much and tears away the old to make way for the new.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/in-the-rush-to-spiff-up-for-the-olympics-what-is-tokyo-losing/

Still there’s the problem that the old just doesn’t want to go away, no matter how abandoned it is.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/09/22/the-abandoned-houses-of-tokyo/

 

There’s also the fact that Tokyo especially, has been knocked around hard by one conflagration or another.

These photos show how Japanese architecture has changed over the last 100 years

What Japan does have is a sense of sameness when construction is sound and a lot of experimentation. Like this small building for instance.

Look for one of the weirdest looking buildings in Tokyo to find some very delicious pineapple cake

Or the Ghibli Museum.

https://theartsmechanical.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/the-ghibli-museum/

Which is hardly the only strange building in Mitaka

http://www.rdloftsmitaka.com/english

Tokyo certainly doesn’t lack for architectural diversity.  Including some very strange ideas.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakagin_Capsule_Tower

Even if the businesses that occupy them have a sleazy reputation.

https://qjphotos.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/the-meguro-emperor-love-hotel/

Still, even the most solid businesses can go to the strange.

http://www.fujitv.co.jp/en/visit_fujitv.html

Even is some of the decisions seem to have been rather strange.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asahi_Beer_Hall

In Tokyo, even the city government gets a classy building.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Metropolitan_Government_Building

True, people looking for Frank LLoyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo will be disappointed, because the hotel was demolished and the lobby is at the Meiji Mura Museum in Nagoya, but there is the girl’s school in Ikebukuro.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiyu_Gakuen_Girls%27_School

Going even further back there are preserved buildings in parks

http://tatemonoen.jp/english/

http://english.nihonminkaen.jp/

Considering Japan’s downright strange address system you would think that having lots of buildings easily distinguishable would be considered a necessary part of the city.

Japan Unwrapped #6: Landmark love

Though some things can be overdone

http://muza-chan.net/japan/index.php/blog/funny-architecture-in-tokyo-photo-2

though being creative is never a bad thing.

http://muza-chan.net/japan/index.php/blog/funny-architecture-in-tokyo-photo-1

http://muza-chan.net/japan/index.php/blog/kappabashi-chef

Of course there are those who reach for the truly weird, and achieve it.

http://www.makoto-architect.com/aos/aos1.htm

http://inventorspot.com/articles/bizarre_design_top_10_weirdest_japanese_buildings

http://www.hellodamage.com/top/2004/05/14/4-of-the-weirdest-damn-buildings-up-in-here/

And it’s not to say that Tokyo has had a total loss.

There are old buildings in the Ginza

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wako_(retailer)

And railroad stations.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokyo_Station

 

Still, Tokyo is one of the best places to see what’s current in architecture.

http://designmadeinjapan.com/magazine/architecture/omotesando-the-worlds-best-outdoor-modern-architecture-museum/

The really strange thing is that even right next to the shiny towers of Tokyo, you can find bits and pieces of old Tokyo it you know where to look, tucked away in narrow streets and alleys, building and shops from The Showa era and earlier. Still, Tokyo is a living city and that means change.  Which sometime means that a structure, no matter how beloved has to and be replaced by the next structure.

Anyway here’s a flikr album of Tokyo and Japanese architecture, the large and the small.

DSC_3771

 

 

Enjoy.

Redesigning The Sidewalk Shed

If you have ever visited New York, You’ve walked under the ubiquitous scaffolding sidewalk sheds. I certainly have.  Ugly as they are, they can be lifesavers if there’s a sudden rainstorm and you don’t have an umbrella. But they can stay up for years sometimes as work goes on slowly or stops altogether for some reason.   Sometimes they seem permanent. Well apparently there is a drive to make them more attractive.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/nyregion/the-sidewalk-shed-ubiquitous-new-york-eyesore-gets-a-makeover.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ur_20150825&nl=nyregion&nlid=69599669&ref=headline&_r=0

This can’t be anything other than a good idea.

Architects Design Kit

I was a building set junkie when I was a kid.  I had a bunch of different sets that I scrounged up from tag sales and church sales including lots of Lego. This is interesting, but it seems inflexible and I’m thinking that you could drop down to a Lego store and just do some scrounging in the bins to get about the same result.  Of course you wouldn’t have the Cad models.

http://www.solidsmack.com/design/arckit-brings-real-world-architecture-components-to-a-tabletop-model-making-set/

TWA Terminal At JFK Set in Amber

The old TWA terminal was always a place apart from the other terminals. Most of the terminals at JFK are basically large boxes with airport gates on them and frankly they don’t even handle passenger flow very well.  And the whole place looks rather ratty.  I remember picking people up or dropping people off at that TWA terminal and it was always a great experience.  The rest of the terminals, not so much.

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2015/06/30/explore_the_twa_terminal_a_pristine_time_capsule_from_1962.php

I’m glad it’s being saved.  On the other hand, airport terminal and tarmac space is valuable and giving it up for a hotel seems rather pointless.