02 May 2013

Takaharu Tezuka: Notes from Memory

Last Sunday, 28 April 2013, I met with the Tokyo architect Takaharu Tezuka, one-half of a partnership with his wife, Yui Tezuka. They practice as Tezuka Architects in the Todoroki area in Setagaya, across the road from a Buddhist temple and park, Todoroki-Fudoson. These are notes from memory of my conversation, so they are ordered as things came back to me.

Tezuka used the phrase "nostalgic future," which means trying to get what we could get as human beings as opposed to imagining that the future will continue to be mainly about technology. Mentions "Brush," an iPad app, and shows me sketches and drawings. ("Tezuka Transfer" as a title for a TraceSF.com article.) 

Scale isn't an issue. Interest in wood, but integration of the newest technologies. (Example - indoor/outdoor exhibit space with inverted crocheted sculpture.) 

Primary school with circular roof: theory of no boundaries = no hierarchies. (Looking at apes.) Slight pitch makes children run naturally. Diagram of the running boy. Kept trees - nets to keep children safe. 

Wood play structure (separate project) designed to encourage risk-taking.

Highrise tower with outdoor space "cut out."

Opening of TraceSF.com article: When I left off (Japan Society conference: roof house and snow museum).

Work in Istanbul: "farmhouse/barn" on a huge site for a wealth client (Bono at the birthday party). 

Kindergarten at Buddhist monastery in tsunami zone - a tsunami every 400 years, replant the trees to provide wood for the next time, to rebuild. Government intervened, harvesting the trees, but temple was able to save its trees. Analyzed the grain to ensure the trees would reshape correctly as they dried, as usually they're dried for 10 years, but no time. Attracted master builders, carpenters, from all over Japan who considered it an honor to work on the project - simple, almost Miesian scheme with deep overhangs.

Mountainside outdoor exhibit space designed on the computer to work out the loads and stresses. Fitted together with joinery. 

Tezuka is from an old ceramics/porcelain family in Kyushu. Had a branch in San Francisco in the 1870s, traded with China and Europe. Grandfather fled Japan with his young wife - an unarranged marriage - for Dallas, then lives in Shanghai, in the silk business. Kept in contact with people in his Shanghai neighborhood, so Tezuka found an old woman who remembered him, had letters and photos.

Tezuka is restoring the house of Reischauer's concubine in Tokyo. 

Round-roof school: Ambient noise is important - sounds in the vicinity help students concentrate. Easier to do so than in a quiet space. (Wouldn't this apply to the workplace, also? Counter-theory to demand for "quiet.") Signal/noise: children hear much higher frequencies, but our brains hear what they need to hear. Played a concert film, making a sound of which he was unaware when actually listening, because his brain excluded it - becomes "noise," that is, background. (Drawings of the school and film.)

Fujinori or Fujimore is the architect who designed Hashimoto's teahouse.

Highrise with cut-out spaces for recreation and for refuge in an earthquake.

Tezuka is a graduate of Penn, 49 years old, with a daughter, 10, and a son. He and his wife had the daughter with them in New York during the Japan Society conference. 

Old people's revival: Big percentage of old people in Japan are bedridden because of muscle loss. Tezuka is working on an assisted living program that rehabilitates through protein, amino acid, and weight training. 

Kindergarten "ring" is designed with a low height - 2.5 meters - between the roof and the ground. By regulation, it should be 3 meters. The school has changed the standard. Voted the best school in an OECD competition in which the schools are nominated by different countries. 

Illustrations: kids running on the school roof; trees lining entry road to Buddhist temple; overhang photo of tsunami kindergarten.

Mentioned that regular incandescent lights that children/people can turn on and off are more energy efficient than LED and fluorescent lights because the latter accustomize people to a higher lumen standard and are left on longer, since people believe they're more efficient.