Ishigami: Proximity to Nature

Ishigami: Proximity to Nature

This spring, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain presents Freeing Architecture, the first major solo exhibition devoted to the work of acclaimed Japanese architect Junya Ishigami. The winner of the Golden Lion Award at the 2010 Venice Biennale of Architecture, the designer is known for a poetic body of work that centres on nature. The exhibition marks the Fondation’s first large-scale show dedicated to an architect, and highlights 20 of the practitioner’s projects from across Asia and Europe.

Aspects of the organic world, such as forests and landscapes, inspire Ishigami the most; his constructions constantly strive to remove the boundary between external terrains and interior spaces. For example, the House of Peace in Copenhagen is an ethereal cloud-shaped structure that rests on the sea as a symbol of serenity. Proximity to nature is further established in the Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop, where floor-to-ceiling glass panels and rows of skylights allow workers to recall the feeling of being outdoors whilst on the inside.

The show communicates Ishigami’s deep research into function, form, scale and the presence of the environment in architecture, and engages with ideas for the future of design that belong within responding to the world around us. The public are able to experience all facets of the architect’s practice, with handmade models, films and drawings representing the long journey that each project undergoes from inception to realisation. Public art pieces such as the Sydney Cloud Arch, which gracefully merges fluid, organic forms with the function of a sculpture, illustrate the architect’s astonishing capacity to think far beyond the traditions of the craft.

The works on show, whilst highlighting a point where aesthetics and function meet, respond to the yearning of the urbanite to feel connected to nature, and further envision the practitioner’s wish to “expand [his] perspective on architecture as flexibly, broadly, and subtly as possible, beyond the stereotypes of what architecture is considered to be.” On a larger scale, this marks how contemporary architecture uses simple forms and materials like glass to respond to the emotional needs of its users, without comprising beauty or practicality.

Freeing Architecture is at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, Paris, from 30 March-10 June. More information can be found here.

1.  Exterior view of Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop. ©junya.ishigami+associates.