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山本理顕展  つくりながら考える/使いながらつくる
YAMAMOTO RIKEN  Thinking While Creating / Creating While Using
2003 05.24-07.26
Thinking While Creating / Creating While Thinking
Reporter : Beda Faessler
At the entrance of the exhibition a huge glass table with small white elements catches the eye, in fact it occupies almost the whole room.
The visitor is invited to experiment with the elements by plugging them together to create special qualities and shapes. At second glance there are six small monitors at the opposite wall. As the space extends to the outside terrace one can see there a original scale model made out of six of these elements. That's all at first.

For an architect with several huge projects and buildings under way and realized during the last few years this is quite surprising. Although these important projects are presented at the second floor of the exhibition area by slide projection onto tables and by the interviews on the small screens, the major impact is clearly reserved for these white elements. What is the importance's of these elements? 
At the opening of the exhibition Riken Yamamoto, Hiroshi Hara and Toyo Ito each delivered short speeches which clarified the intent of the exhibition. On occasion of the competition for a new town hall in Ora city in 2002, Hiroshi Hara was one of the Judges and took the chance to demand for a sustainable flexible construction system which allows the participation of the town people in the architectural process. The white elements form is the base of the proposal by Yamamoto which was chosen for realization. They came to be called the Ora-element.

Rather than just being one more try in participating architecture, Yamamoto stresses that this kind of working together with local residents is only successfully possible by the architect having a very strong concept and clear vision about the final result and the process leading towards it. In this matter comes to mind the straightness, Toyo Itoh chooses to stress in his speech about Yamamoto. With this clarity and a strong sense of what to reach Yamamoto is able to use this Ora-element as a kind of communication tool to be able to discuss the architecture of the future town hall with people involved regardless of their knowledge in construction and design.

The quality of this element is two folded, it serves as a communication and design tool on one hand as explained above. On the other hand it is an extremely flexible construction element allowing for changes during the process of building and even after that during the whole life time of the building which obviously makes it very sustainable. 


Thinking While Creating / Creating While Thinking, and quoting the title of chapter one of the published book of the exhibition, The Process Itself is Architecture, hint to another important aspect. Yamamoto seems to targeting with his latest works a wider understanding of what architecture is or should be and aims to overcome the classic view of the architectural work being mainly reduced to produce isolated sculptural buildings. Consequently he works with opening up and integrating the building into its physical surrounding as well as looking for a dialogue with the social and functional surrounding. This second aspect might be even more important as it forces the architect to confront and articulate social and political aspects and problems as well.

In this circumstances the Ora-elements are loaded with symbol and manifest character in the process of development another approach to architecture.

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