After tackling the environment issue with an exhibition on the work of Philippe Rahm and Gilles Clément in 2006, the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture) continues to explore urban problems by presenting an interface between two architectural projects, one by London's Stephen Taylor and the other by Tokyo's Ryue Nishizawa.
Each in their own way, and from very different cultures where the art of living is expressed in distinct forms, both architects, whose projects are on display in North America for the first time, present original solutions to the challenges created by housing construction amidst existing dense urban areas.
Giovanna Borasi, curator of the exhibition, wanted to examine the assumption that, in this era of globalisation, everyone throughout the world lives in the same manner. London and Tokyo are both experiencing development in the heart of the city, which is redefining their urban system. Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa share a desire to design homes tailored simultaneously to the residents' lifestyle and to the face of the city. And yet, their architectural responses are quite different.
In London, almost 90% of the buildings now serve a different purpose than their original use. New construction must therefore be integrated into an existing and dense urban fabric, without compromising the scale of the neighbourhood. Stephen Taylor's projects blend into the surrounding urban fabric in a subtle manner and claim their position on the street with simple façades, while acting as filters that separate public and private spaces. The interiors are organised in such a way that the location's function can be altered as needed.
In Tokyo, a house's lifespan rarely goes beyond 20 or 30 years. This constant renewal often drives Japanese architects to focus their attention on the buildings' interiors. Ryue Nashizawa's homes feature very close relationships between the interior and exterior spaces. He promotes spatial organisation that highlights the need to focus on architectural models that are adapted to contemporary lifestyles: rooms that stand apart, sequential arrangements, etc.
The exhibition, conceived in close collaboration with both architects, features original display furniture, large-scale models, original drawings, renderings, prints and books. A micro-website runs parallel to the exhibition and gives users the opportunity to contribute to an aspect of the exhibition by posting independent images, videos or writings.
If different cities present various architectural solutions to the challenges of integrating new houses in an existing urban fabric, this exhibition will surely incite reflections on similar applications tailored to Montreal.
Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo
14 May to 26 October, 2008
Canadian Centre for Architecture