What I’m Reading

June 2019

Japanese Creativity: Contemplations On Japanese Architecture

I just picked this number up at the AIA Conference from the nifty pop-up store they set up each year. Here’s the gist:

“In Japanese Creativity, Japanese architect Yuichiro Edagawa sets out to try to determine the roots of a particularly Japanese architectural style by analyzing a wide variety of exemplary buildings from the sixth century to the present. Developing his theory out of close observation and practical knowledge and constantly shifting between historical and more recent examples, Edagawa isolates what he considers to be the distinctive characteristics of Japanese architectural creativity and composition: intimacy with nature, importance of materials, bipolarity and diversity, asymmetry, devotion to small space and an appreciation for organic form. He finds these qualities across Japanese design, and from these extrapolates a theory of Japanese architectural creation. With Japanese Creativity, Edagawa provides a personal yet comprehensive survey of Japanese creativity and the architectural process, offering an insight into contemporary Japanese culture and identity, both deeply traditional and modern at the same time.”


Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture between Metrics and Narratives

This book is important and a bit of a mind fuck. Here’s the gist:

“Architecture accounts for one third of global carbon emissions, energy consumption and waste. Buildings are increasingly understood to impact broader ecologies. Yet embodied energy – the various forms of energy required to extract raw matter, to produce and transport building materials and to assemble a given building – remains largely underexplored. Embodied Energy and Design: Making Architecture Between Metrics and Narratives addresses and thoroughly examines the issue.

This book reconsiders the act of making a building as an act of energy expenditure and asks questions about a variety of related scales, methods of analysis and design opportunities. How might new technologies and materials challenge default positions on sustainability? Should we think of buildings as dynamic systems connecting multiple sites rather than as static and isolated objects? Does the duration of architecture extend beyond the life of a built structure?

By addressing these questions, architects may discover not only new ways of building, but also new forms of creativity. Essays and studies by various established contributors are accompanied by detailed graphics, plans, drawings and photographs illustrating the issue and possible solutions.”


Wabi Sabi For Artists, Designers, Poets, and Philosophers

I love this book. Each read through is a new delight.

“This is an updated version of the enduring classic that first introduced the concept of imperfect beauty to the West. Text, images, and book design seamlessly meld into a wabi-sabi-like experience. Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete . . .. . . wabi-sabi could even be called the Zen of things, as it exemplifies many of Zen's core spiritual-philosophical tenets . . .Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of what we think of as traditional Japanese beauty. It occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West . . .Wabi-sabi, in its purest, most idealized form, is precisely about the delicate traces, the faint evidence, at the borders of nothingness ... Author Leonard Koren was trained as an architect but never built anything--except an eccentric Japanese tea house--because he found large, permanent objects too philosophically vexing to design. Instead he created WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing, one of the premier avant-garde magazines of the 1970s. Subsequently Koren has produced unusual books about design- and aesthetics-related subjects. Koren resides in both America and Japan”