8/12/2019 Atelier Bow Wow Wow Chodoriwsky
6 On Site review 23 Sma l l T h ings
Im interested in the connection between your small-scale preoccupations
and your larger scale urban research. Do you feel that there are appropriate,
effective ways to shift from the small scale to larger scales, or vice versa?
In terms of scale, the biggest programs can also be embedded in
the small scale. This idea always encourages me to be brave or
proud to be working at a very small scale. I like to deal with large
issues through a scale that can be really handled, because you need
a good ear to hear the echo between a very small thing and a bigissue. I really like to make this comparison. Showing the sound of
the echo between this and that can be sometimes very enigmatic,
sometimes elegant . . .
. . . and sometimes humourous. In a recent essay you wrote that, when
designing a small house in Tokyo, its impossible to have an effect on the
city and so it is allowed to be dreamlikean object of our imagination.
Ive always felt that your small work are somewhat eeting, maybe even
suitably incomplete. Theyre not microcosms of grand concepts you seem
more concerned with articulating this echo relationship . . .
I learned this from Jean-Luc Godard, when he was criticised
by French journalists for not going to Vietnam to shoot a lm;
instead, he stayed in Paris. And Godard said, its not necessaryfor a lm to go to Vietnam, but the more important thing is to
let Vietnam pour into the lm. This is an issue of echo. I like very
much this attitude to the world, that you cannot be representative
of the whole world, but you can create an echo with it.
yos h i h a ru tsukamotoon p e t a r c h it e c tur ethe micro-urbanism of atelier Bow-Wow
BY STEVE CHODORIWSKY
in terrupt ion
Much of your work focuses on a serious consideration of small space as bona
de spacenot as something nostalgic or cute, but rather as a contemporary
fact, something both useful and enjoyable. What are your thoughts on this?
I think smallness can be a very strong tool for directing a design.
For me, the very important thing is to handle the differences that
emerge in every level of architectural composition and articulation.
So if you want to make even a simple composition between
rooms, some differences already emerge. Each room is just aroom, but once theyre connected, their relationships create great
differenceswhere you go in, or where you look
it becomes complicated very quickly
It starts to be full of difference through these things. I think that,
currently, the architectural discussion in Japan is based on how
to deal with these small differences: how much you rationalise
inevitable differences, how much you avoid or accentuate given
differences from the outside environment, like site conditions or
sunlight. If you start to be conscious of these changes, you need
to break down levels of understanding into smaller elements and
dimensions. For example, if you are aware of the temperature,
this part of the room is really different from over there near thewindow. The light condition also changes. This is my interest
with smallnesshow to open up these kinds of different
investigations, to understand the different qualities of space.
House + Ate l i e r Bow-Wow
[arch i tects ] Ate l i e r Bow-Wow
[locat ion] Shin juku-ku, Tokyo
[s i te a rea] 109 .03sqm
[bu i ld ing a rea] 59 .76sqm
[tota l f l oor a rea] 211 .27sqm
[s t ructu re] re in forced concrete and s tee l f rame
[photo] Ate l i e r Bow-Wow
A Pr oj ec t
[a rch i tects ] Ate l i e r Bow-Wow
[ locat ion] Tokyo
[photo] Ate l i e r Bow-Wow
a conversation about small things conducted in March 2010 at the TsukamotoLaboratory, Tokyo Institute of Technology Department of Architecture
8/12/2019 Atelier Bow Wow Wow Chodoriwsky
7Sma l l T h ings On Site review 23
th ings you might l i ke to know but never have the chance to ask : Ate l i e r
Bow-Wow i s a t rans la t ion f rom the Japanese Ate l i e r Wan , wh ich i s ,
natu ra l l y enough , the sound a dog makes in Japanese . Doubl ing the
wordp lay , Wan wr i t ten in phonet i c Japanese , i s homonymous w i th One.
The concepts Pet Architec ture and Micro Public Space come up consistently in
your activities. With them, how do you feel smallness is linked to promoting
good spatial prac tice?
I am interested in the concept of smallness as it relates to body
consciousness a relationship between space and the body. Since
most of our basic understanding of urban space for everyday living
is very segregated, life becomes quite mechanical somehow. All the
pieces are articulated as a kind of packaged service within the city,and if you have enough money, you can enjoy this itinerary, visiting
these packages, one by one. The body, though, is something
which tries to go beyond this controlled experience, through
inventive spatial practice. In certain places, right when the body
goes beyond this package, you can feel like you have discovered
the earth a kind of wild aspect of the living condition of human
beings. I like very much the feeling of de-packaging these services.
So if you buy a house produced by Sekisui [an industrialised housing
company] in a new suburban development ninety minutes from
Tokyo Station by train, your whole life could be packaged. But on
the other hand, in Pet Architecture buildings, which we found to
be very interesting, dont t into this framework.
Yes, although they lack size, they retain extremely customised functions, and
Their time and space are not served by anyone or anything,
theyre really there, and this condition is irreplaceable. And the
participation of the real body really supports the existence of that
combination of time and space. This is quite strong for me; it
stimulates my sensibility of urban living conditions today. Our
intention was to show Pet Architecture as the foregroundI thinkit is often just pushed to the background.
Do you think they play the role of urban monuments?
Yes, I think its a kind of micro-monument, a witness to the
transformation of the city. I found that Pet Architecture emerges
out of specic contexts, where new or enlarged streets cut through
old urban fabric, or, in spaces where the geometry of curving rivers
or railways encounter orthogonal street patterns. They always
appear at very unique points where these interventions occur.
In that sense, they denitely have a monumental aspect. And
people are really fond of these buildings, they become imprinted
onto individuals memories. If you ask someone to talk about Pet
Architecture in their neighbourhood, they can usually mention atleast two or three really tiny buildings . . .
Compared to an individuals daily routine, which you frame as a series of
complete packages, Pet Architecture becomes a kind of jarring interruption.
This tells of an insufciency or incompleteness in these buildings.
But this also allows them to open to the environment thats an
important quality. They cant be closed-off systems; they must be
helped by other buildings . . . I really like the generosity of Tokyo,
which allows these kinds of structures. The city doesnt want to
clean them up, or force every building to be formal. Of course
new construction must t to regulations, but still, they can keep a
feeling of informality . . . v
ate l i e r bow-wow