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Photo Book「建築の建築 / House of Architecture」
Launch Solo Exhibition「三つ目の建築 - 書籍、住居そして森 / The Third Architecture - a Book, a Maison and a Forest
at POST January 30 - February 18, 2016

Solo Exhibition 「FROM LE CORBUSIER TO MAEKAWA」at Nikon Salon Shinjuku

Kunio Mayekawa Residence

Photo Book「建築の建築 / House of Architecture」
Photography : Tamami Iinuma

Publisher : POST
Project Manager : Hiroshi Onishi
Art Director : Yoshihisa Tanaka
Texts : Tadatomo Oshima, Thibaut de Ruyter, Yuzuru Tominaga and Tamami Iinuma
Published on January 30, 2016 / First edition of 500

建築の建築 / House of Architecture (essay by the artist)

When I was in kindergarten I dreamt about growing up to become an architect. I remember always feeling confused when the teacher asked us to draw freely in our white sketchbooks. Rather than a sketchbook, I preferred the real estate floor plans that were delivered with the Sunday newspaper. I would get excited as I imagined removing a wall to create an open space, selecting the shape and color of the sofa, or deciding on the material for the dining table. In my family, arguments often occurred due to the noise of daily life. My father worked at night, came home in the morning and slept throughout the day. As a child I could never get used to that routine. It seemed senseless to me and so I would try to think of ways to solve the circulation problems in our apartment. As a cunning little girl, I offered my older sister the larger bedroom so that I could have the one with more natural light. I dreamt about taking a peaceful nap in the sunlight by the window.
At that time, I thought that an architect was the person that dealt with the issues and organization of space. I wanted to be that person.
I had other dreams in elementary and junior high school, but at the age of 17 I decided to become a photographer and enrolled in art school. After six years of studying in Tokyo, I moved to Leipzig and then Paris.
I turned 30 years old in 2013 and entered the PhD program at Tokyo National University of Arts and Music with the aim of consolidating the experiences that I’d had in Europe. Ueno Forest, also known as Tokyo’s “Museum Forest,” became a part of my daily life. Inside the forest is Le Corbusier’s only architecture project in Japan, The National Museum of Western Art. In front of the museum is Tokyo Metropolitan Festival Hall by Kunio Mayekawa, who was one of three Japanese pupils of Le Corbusier. Mayekawa supported Le Corbusier during the construction of The National Museum of Western Art and was also responsible for the construction of the museum’s annex. Walking further into the forest, layers of dark red-violet blocks appear in the gaps between the trees. These blocks form the walls of my favorite piece of Mayekawa architecture, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.
As Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum became a part of my daily landscape, I began to be drawn not only to its shape and form, but also to the rhythm with which it breathed in and out to manage changes in temperature. I was also drawn to its relationship with the forest, especially its proximity to nature. The architecture presents various faces, all of which are intimately related to factors such as changes in the weather, variations in light, the flow between seasons, and the growth and fall of leaves. The trees also appear to be delighted, as if dancing on Mayekawa’s stage. I began to view Tokyo Metropolitan Museum as one of the residents of Ueno Forest.
I also became interested in how I perceive this piece of architecture as a mirror to myself. When I am happy it shines into my eyes. Yet when it appears dim or unclear ? even after I’ve rubbed my eyes several times ? it makes me acknowledge my stress or nervousness and the need to take a deep breath. On the day of an important meeting or presentation, I adore it and can sense that it’s cheering me up. For other people, this “mirror” may result from wearing certain clothes or eating a certain food. A daily cup of coffee may taste better with each passing day, or it may reach a point where its taste starts going unnoticed.
I view architecture as man himself. After all, architecture is constructed by man. Architecture is a monument to the passion and effort of those who create it. The growth of architecture is derived from the life of its occupants. Considering architecture solely as a machine is cold. As occupants go about their daily lives, their emotions and experiences are stored within the architecture, providing it with warmth and a chance to breathe. As Le Corbusier said, architecture is a “machine for living.” Man expects to be protected by architecture, whether it be in order to think, to cry, to dance or to sing freely.
The other face of architecture comes from its role as a silent observer of our city and environment. It stands in one place, intently viewing the events that unfold before it. We also know that architecture can disappear without reason. For me, communicating with architecture through photography is like unravelling the history of the city by unwinding traces of man from his cocoon.
I have been photographing Mayekawa’s architecture since 2014 and I’ve recently found myself viewing it with a sense of respect and longing to grow old as it does. It may be architecture that I photograph, but maybe that's not so different to photographing man.

「建築の建築 / House of Architecture」日本語 (PDF 148KB)

Photo Book「建築の建築 / House of Architecture」available online at

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