Saturday, 26 August 2017

Who is Junya Ishigami?

Sydney's proposed cloud arch sculpture has received broad approval in the community but the designer is still an unknown quantity in Sydney, so I did a bit of sleuthing to find examples of his work in other parts of the world.

Junya Ishigami has been in the public eye for quite a few years. Born in 1974, he went to Musashi Institute of Technology from 1994-98, then he went to Tokyo University of the Arts from 1998-2000. He joined architect firm Kazuyo Sejima + Associates in 2000 and in 2004 he set up his own firm.

The first important event in his career seems to have been the Venice Biennale in 2008 where he was the designer of the Japanese pavilion.


In the same year his design for a workshop at the Kanagawa Institute of Technology was completed.


Ishigami was back at the next Venice Biennale in 2010 winning the Golden Lion for best project, for Architecture as air: Study for ch√Ęteau la coste.

In the video you can see the thin carbon fibre rods and the wispy threads of stuff the exhibition participants are using to construct the installation in the exhibition space, which is an old building dating from a much earlier era. There is almost nothing to be seen, the thing is just the mere impression of a structure, indeed it is the bare outline of one. Ishigami's exhibition later went to London, where it was shown at the Barbican.

In 2012 Ishigami’s firm won a competition to build a visitor centre for Park Groot Vijversburg, in the Netherlands, along with local firm MAKS. From the designer's own website:
Park Groot Vijversburg, located in the north of Holland was established in the 19th century and contains a rich history of flora and fauna. A historical villa is centrally placed in the park. Throughout the year, the park hosts many events such as international exhibitions of contemporary art, musical performances, church services and excursions. 
The goal is to design a new visitor center, renovate the historical villa, develop a floating stage for performances, and create glasshouses for the botanical gardens. 
One of our main proposals is a visitor center, positioned next to the historical villa. In plan, the form is as if pulled tightly in three directions while maintaining a required main hall. 
As the main hall stretches, it gradually becomes a path – naturally transforming into a park trail. This slowly pulled wing loses its quality of interior space as one progresses along it, leaving only its wall, until it finally disappears into the park environment. 
In this way, the building establishes a large scale similar to that of the generous park, and at the same time, the enclosed space provides small scale ambiance and intimacy. This is our aspiration for the new visitor center.
In 2014 two big wins came Ishigami’s way: the Kinmen ferry terminal in Taiwan, and the House of Peace for Copenhagen’s harbour. The second of these projects was won with local firm Svendborg Architects.


Neither of the projects seems to have been built yet but in 2015 Ishigami constructed a nursery in Atsugi, in Japan, using cloud forms. He was interviewed about the project:
"I like to look at the clouds," explained Ishigami. "Clouds change their form at will, with a certain rationality. Moreover, they are all white and fluffy, having both a sense of unity and some consistency. And they are vast." 
"I have been thinking recently about whether it is possible to think of architecture in such an atmosphere," he added.

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