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HIGHLIGHT: FUMIHIKO MAKI

ARCHITECT FUMIHIKO MAKI

HIGHLIGHT: FUMIHIKO MAKI

Fumihiko Maki of Japan is an architect whose work is intelligent and artistic in concept and expression, meticulously achieved. He is a modernist who has fused the best of both eastern and western cultures to create an architecture representing the age-old qualities of his native country while at the same time juxtaposing contemporary construction methods and materials. For building works that are not only expressions of his time, but that are destined to survive mere fashion, the 1993 Pritzker Architecture Prize is presented to Fumihiko Maki.

Maki, who was born in Tokyo on September 6, 1928, studied with Kenzo Tange at the University of Tokyo where he received his Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1952. Maki then spent the next year at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. After completing a Master of Architecture degree at the Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, he apprenticed at the firms Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, New York and Sert Jackson and Associates in Cambridge.

While he was preparing to open his own office, Maki worked at, or observed, numerous offices in Japan and other countries. One of the conclusions he drew was that an office, and by extension, design itself, is a matter of individual character, and that an office is itself a work of art. “Architectural design is perhaps the strangest activity undertaken by the many professions, and a group that engages in architectural design is likewise a curious organization. Architecture is a highly ambiguous field.”

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Fumihiko Maki calls himself a modernist, unequivocally. His buildings tend to be direct, at times understated, and made of metal, concrete and glass, the classic materials of the modernist age, but the canonical palette has also been extended to include such materials as mosaic tile, anodized aluminum and stainless steel. Along with a great many other Japanese architects, he has maintained a consistent interest in new technology as part of his design language, quite often taking advantage of modular systems in construction. He makes a conscious effort to capture the spirit of a place and an era, producing with each building or complex of buildings, a work that makes full use of all that is presently at his command. Maki often speaks of the idea of creating “unforgettable scenes”—in effect, settings to accommodate and complement all kinds of human interaction—as the inspiration and starting point for his designs.

Iwasaki Art Museum

Iwasaki Art Museum

Ibusuki, Kagoshima, Japan, 1978

Maki has expressed his constant concern for the “parts” and the “whole”—describing one of his goals as achieving a dynamic equilibrium that includes sometimes conflicting masses, volumes, and materials.

Iwasaki Art Museum & Annex is located in the garden area of a resort hotel in Kagoshima. A museum, office building, and museum annex were designed in succession and together form a complex on the site. Each building has a common image, and also a comparable spatial expression incorporating light and dark, Mediterranean and Japanese influences. Modern Western paintings are stored and exhibited in the museum, while Japanese paintings and ceramics are housed in the Annex.

Fujisawa Municipal Gymnasium

Fujisawa Municipal Gymnasium

Fujisawa, Kanagawa, Japan, 1984

Fujisawa Municipal Gymnasium combines a main arena and sub-arena, contraposed at a slight angle to one another and linked by a central entrance hall. Curving roof forms enclose the two arena volumes. The juxtaposition of these two forms creates a variety of silhouettes from different angles. The stainless steel roof responds to subtle changes in the light. The reflection is sometimes calm, sometimes sharp. At dusk, the edge of the roof and the sky meld together.

Spiral

Spiral

Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 1985

Maki uses light in a masterful way making it as tangible a part of every design as are the walls and roof. In each building, he searches for a way to make transparency, translucency and opacity exist in total harmony. To echo his own words, “Detailing is what gives architecture its rhythm and scale.”

Spiral is an urban art center, where fine arts and design exhibitions, music, and stage performances can take place in a variety of settings. A continuous circular space winds through gallery spaces, a café, an atrium and an assembly hall, creating a “stage” for people to see and to be seen, interacting with each other and with the artwork. The exterior facade, built up and composed from smaller details, reflects the complex program. On the interior, detailing is used more rhetorically, rather than simply continuing the exterior themes.

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 1990

Maki has described creation in architecture as “discovery, not invention… a cultural act in response to the common imagination or vision of the time.” Further, he believes, “it is the responsibility of the architect to leave behind buildings that are assets to culture.”

Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium is located in the outer gardens of Meiji Shrine. Befitting of its park-like surroundings, it is designed to include a variety of exterior spaces, and a diversity of architectural expressions. Each building (main arena, sub-arena, and indoor pool) maintains its integrity as a large volume, while simultaneously establishing inviting humane exterior spaces for the public. Together, these elements constitute an expression of ‘collective form.’ As one’s viewpoint shifts, the overlapping of these volumes creates unexpected silhouettes.

Tokyo Church of Christ

Tokyo Church of Christ

Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 1995

The Tokyo Church of Christ’s main chapel is located on the upper level; its vaulted interior form, translated to the exterior, creates a symbolic skyline within the busy cityscape. Daily use program elements are located on the lower (street) level. The exterior glass skin, reminiscent of a traditional Japanese wood and paper shoji screen, is comprised of two separate layers of glass. The outer layer is translucent glass, and the inner layer is a sandwich of glass and glass fiber tissue. The screen encloses the space with a warm and silent light. The double layers shut out city noise, making the chapel a tranquil, meditative, and sacred space.

Nagano Performing Arts Center

Nagano Performing Arts Center (+Nagano City Hall)

Nagano, Japan, 2016

The site is located along a large boulevard defining one of the major urban axes of Nagano City. The building is designed with low eaves along the boulevard and a rhythmically divided facade, in order to establish a human-scale streetscape. Visual transparency creates an active interplay between interior and exterior. This “seeing / being seen” relationship is established via open views of building activity from the boulevard, and open views of the adjacent plaza greenery and the cityscape from the interior.

Shenzhen Sea World Culture and Arts Center

Shenzhen Sea World Culture and Arts Center

Shenzhen, China, 2017

In 2011, Maki and Associates was invited to design its first project in China. Shenzhen Sea World Culture and Arts Center was designed as a cultural core of a large-scale multi-use (culture, retail, commercial, residential) development in the Sea World area. The site occupies the southeastern portion of the Shekou Peninsula and overlooks the ocean with beautiful views of the mountains of Hong Kong.

The form of the building consists of a podium and a pavilion, with three volumes protruding to the natural features of the geography,facing the ocean to the south, the adjacent park, and the mountains to the north. The circulation loops around the internal atria, all of which are closely tied to the exterior plazas. Together, they provide a wide array of cultural experiences to the visitor. The park extends onto the roof garden via two grand stairways, creating a holistic public experience appropriate for a culture center.

Source: pritzkerprize.com; maki-and-associates.co.jp

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