Resourceful men vs. Human resources

Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, co-founder of Atelier Bow Wow with Momoyo Kajima, was invited to close the 2018’s Critical Distance Conference cycle, promoted by Trienal de Arquitetura de Lisboa and CCB (Centro Cultural de Belém).

Resourceful Men facing Human Resources using architecture as a medium was the main subject proposed by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto for this lecture.

Despite Pet Architecture and Micro-Urban Space theories as an answer to Tokyo’s suburbia demanding, Atelier Bow Wow also suggests an ethnographical approach to architecture. Arguing Henry Lefebvre Spatial Practice Theory as a typology of approach from the perspective of the use of space rather than a formal composition and the legacy of Metabolism Group along their mega-structures inspired in the organic biological growth, were theories that enabled the development of behaviorology as a concept that reflects the trilogy human, nature and building behavior.

We talked to Mr. Tsukamoto to better understand these concepts and their architectural approaches.


Joana Jordão – How can you explain the adoption of the Behaviorology concept first into a micro-scale (or building scale) and then to an urban, even society’s dimension?

Yoshiharu Tsukamoto – Through behaviorology, we try to grasp natural, human and building behaviors and synthetize all of them as one physical entity. It means architecture, as a physical entity is already becoming a hub of networks with different actors: light, heat and wind actors for the building and people’s behavior from a certain culture or custom (also perceived as actors). This idea of architecture as a hub, of a network, gives us another perspective that overcomes the categories based on scales, like furniture, urban housing, landscape design. These categories are given from industry. For industry, it is better to make categories. But if you see it from a network point of view, network is scale free, even the small things can cover the whole world.

Behaviorology goes into this scale-free understanding of the system.

JJ – In urban-rural exchange we’re interested in understanding how urbanity meets rural space?

YT – In urban-rural exchange we’re interested in understanding how urbanity meets rural landscape. If you search the genealogy of this type of proposal, you date back to Palladian Villas that were conceived by the necessity of an aristocrat who came from Istanbul to start a new business of farming production in Veneto.  The aristocrat that would live in countryside for the first time needs a new legend and a house-office. Andrea Palladio was the architect invited to design a house miming the ancient Greek Temple and used the colonnade language to make a small building appear to be a bigger one. Afterwards he was invited to design San Giorgio Maggiore church in Venice.

This urban global exchange already produced this typology of urban-villa in the countryside. This program of urban-rural exchange invites people from the city to come to the countryside and generates better conditions to the local people. Genealogy has a direct connection to the past.

JJ – In a time where globalization rules society, vernacular architecture seems to be a possible answer to the individualization, once there’s less distinction between construction and occupation.

YT – Nowadays architecture is not only questioned by architects, but by the institutional system as well. Unconventional types of space became a new target for architects and this is very interesting because it’s very critical and apart from the institutional space that’s very important and it should accept criticism. I think it’s time to do it. Many young collectives are doing it. They’re making small buildings by themselves, with the inhabitants, designing buildings with low profile construction techniques, with very simple forms and plans, resulting in some sort of beauty. This vernacular approach to the contemporary architecture, linked with small constructions where you can occupy one space in several ways, can be an answer.

JJ – What about the Timescale concept?

YT – It’s very simple. Based on behaviorology, you have the overlapping of several cycles: a day, a week, a year. Different timescales overlapping each other enables the link between human behavior and nature.

JJ – Which are the fundamental differences between the eastern from the western architectural contemporary approach?

YT – The main difference concerns the long history of stone construction and the long history of wood construction. If you introduce the perspective of network while thinking in the construction material, behind the wood construction there’s the whole forest management. Behind this ability to raise a forest in a good condition, there’s a management of weather and climate conditions associated with as soil condition. In Japan’s archipelago, the soil was produced by earthquake and volcanic activities with the wet weather from the sea. There’s also the water element and its potential energy, simply by gravity, that generates energy at the same times it purifies water itself, when going down from the top of the mountain. It’s all connected to the nature of the place: wood construction doesn’t mean just that, it also means tradition, environment, society and specially the mindset of the people that grew up in this kind of environment. The stone construction has its own system, completely different from the wood. For me this is the main difference. I like the Portuguese architectural approach.

Lives and works in Lisbon. Has a Masters degree in Architecture from the FA-UL, in 2010, has developed her professional practice in Switzerland between 2011 and 2016. In 2017 began her Post-graduation in Art Curatorship, at FCSH-UNL, and integrated the collective of curators in the final exhibition ECO (DA IDEIA À OBRA DE ARTE) and the commission of the exhibition of the communitarian art project UM MONUMENTO PARA O LOUSAL. Presently, she is developing projects around the domains of architecture and curatorship.

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