Contemporary Architecture

Modern bamboo architecture


It is a fact that literature about bamboo in modern architecture is hard to find. At this time bamboo is just used as a forming and constructive element.  Bamboo was introduced to Europe through some sporadic organizations and
trial projects. In regions where bamboo is domestic, it was not just integrated in culture, but even in architecture. The logical conclusion is that architects of these regions are more interested in presenting the qualities of this material to us.

Bamboo has the image of being the building material of the poorer class, for example in Colombia the upper class especially prefers concrete. In India the highest caste builds with stone, the middle castes use wood and only the lowest castes use bamboo. The material bamboo is not standardized so people in Europe are confronted with difficulties, if they want to build with bamboo.

Nevertheless some famous architects and engineers already made their experiments with this natural product. The qualities of bamboo are also appreciated by Renzo Piano. He was interested in combining light metal elements [tubes /slabs] with bamboo. In this way there arise intersections between bamboo- and modern light metal- constructions, Arata Isozaki, Buckminster Fuller und Frei Otto.

Modern bamboo- architects:

Simón Vélez:

Vélez is a graduate architect, from the University of Colombia in Bogotá. He was born in Manizale/ Colombia in 1949 and has completed over 100 projects using concrete, bamboo (Guada Angustafolia), mangrove wood, woven palm mat lathing (or expanded metal lath) and clay roof tile. Simón Vélez works from Bogotá, Colombia, South America. As much of his work has been in very rural areas for ranchers, he has been allowed to experiment with the locally available materials due to a lack of a regulating authority and the relative difficulty of importing the standard building materials of brick and mortar.Vélez has developed a very interesting model for building experimental structures. He builds only with his own well-trained crew of workers, so he is able to constantly draw upon past successes and failures in detailing. He intentionally keeps drawings simple, usually freehand on single sheets of 8×11 graph paper. Cad- drawings only are made for the purchaser or for building improvements. The clearest concept to be seen in his drawings is the necessity for balance. These cantilevers are very large, but maintain an obvious center of gravity over the support. The main mistake some architects do is to use bamboo like wood. His efforts are trials, because he always tries to plan with respecting bamboo and its peculiarities. Very often bamboo only was tested on compression, but the real quality exists in its capability to compense shear tension. Vélez used this in his framework constructions, which were able to cantilever more than 9 meters and to strain about 27 meters. 1998 Simón Vélez took part in a summer-workshop in Boisbuchet/France, which was arranged by the Vitra Design Museum and the Center Georges Pompidou. At this opportunity he realized his first project in Europe – a garden pavilion. One year later he set up a prototype of a ‘low-cost-house’, which could be built by the inhabitants. The building is extremely resistant to earthquakes and is based on bamboo and loam. It has 60 square meters divided on two floors and the value in Columbia is about 5000$. Most of his buildings served to create a good image of bamboo even in higher social class of Columbia. This may be the way to integrate and establish bamboo next to concrete, steel, wood and stone as a full building material.

Shoei Yoh

Shoei Yoh was born in 1940 in Kumamoto-City/Japan.1970 he founded his office ‘ShoeiYohArchitects’ .In his long career he won many architecture prizes and at this time he teaches at the ‘Graduate School of Keio University’. In two projects he used bamboo as main static structure. He also designed a geodetic cupola [1989]. He also attended with ‘grating- shell construction’ .In Chikuho-Fukuoka he was inspired by the local artisans.

Rocco Yim:

The “Festival of Vision” in summer 2000 connects the cities Berlin and Hong Kong, while both are in a time of change and reorientation. The ‘House of the Cultures of the World’ demonstrates in this context the important attitude to contemporary art made in Hong Kong. In this context the pavilion of the architect Rocco Yim from Hong Kong was distinguished in front of the ‘House of the Cultures of the World’ in a lake. Bamboo on the one hand has an essential meaning for his static structure for high buildings, on the other hand for temporary stages or Chinese

Michael McDonough:

Michael McDonough is an architect and furniture designer, who discovered bamboo some years ago. Since that time he attended with the possibilities of this material. After some furniture designs he wanted to realize his project ‘Mendocino high-tech Bamboo Bridge’ in 2000 . This should be a demonstration of the constructive qualities of bamboo. This framework construction is able to strain over 33 meters and is also able to compensate more than 60 times of its own weight. The static structure is based on the principle of ‘tensegrity’, which was coined by Buckminster Fuller and Robert Le Ricolais. “The word ‘tensegrity’ is an invention: a contraction of ‘tensional integrity.’ Tensegrity describes a structural-relationship principle in which structural shape is guaranteed by the finitely closed, comprehensively continuous, tensional behaviors of the system and not by the discontinuous and exclusively local compressional member behaviors. Tensegrity provides the ability to yield increasingly without ultimately breaking or coming asunder.” (“Synergetics”, by R. Buckminster Fuller ).

Darrel DeBoer:

The architect Darrel DeBoer lives in Alameda/ California. He was inspired by the buildings of Simon Velez. During the time he worked at different books and he arranged the moving exhibition with the topic ‘resource-efficient building components’ . Furthermore he is responsible for the straw-baleproject. Timothy Ivory Timothy Ivory is the Director of Design for and trained originally as a theatrical designer at the University of Michigan and New York University, receiving his MA in Design from University of Michigan. He also studied Pantomime with Marcel Marceau’s mentor , Etienne Decroux and at the L’Ecole de Cirque Nationale de Paris. He is now designing and building original pieces by commission and developing a line of Bamboo furniture. His past work has included creating theatrical environments mixing six foot masks on bamboo poles with fabric as wings, staging performance pieces mixing circus, theatre and bamboo sculpture and creating temporary or transitional structures to educate as to the benefits of building with bamboo as a green/sustainable material. In 1995 he created a Bamboo Pool Bar and also a Massage Spa Shade Structure using Tonkin Cane Bamboo at the Delano Hotel. He also designed and built a pool house using Guaduas Angustifolia from Colombia.


Oscar Hidalgo:

Oscar Hidalgo, also a Colombian architect, was born in a bamboo house in Chinchina . He is focused on research and science, but he also realized some bamboo projects. He traveled to Asia, Costa Rica and Brazil for his profession.
Jules Janssenn Dr. Jules J.A. Janssen is a well-known expert in the field of bamboo as a building and engineering material. He has been keynote speaker on several congresses, and has acted as a member of steering committees, chairman in several sessions, and referee of papers submitted for congresses. Further he has acted as member of committees for Ph.D. studies at several Universities and has been the supervisor of the National Bamboo Project in Costa Rica from 1987 till 1995.


BAMBUCO is the group of artists and climbers brought together by Artistic Director Simon Barley to create unique aerial performance construction events. Simon has been designing performance space and building site specific installations for some years, with an emphasis on exploration of aerial space. Study of bamboo construction followed from an interest in lightweight structures. After research in SE Asia and a period as a trainee scaffolder at Kowloon Bay CITA, Hong Kong, he collaborated with the contemporary dance company Danceworks to produce the giant bamboo installation BRIDGE for
Melbourne International Festival 1995. The crowds gathering to watch the builders at work confirmed the idea of a
spectacular construction process viewed as a performance event. BAMBUCO has a core artistic and management group based in Melbourne, Australia. Construction crews are drawn from many countries. Construction involves techniques adapted from modern rock climbing – although the work appears dangerous, attention to safety at height is given the highest priority. Once on site they add to this a sense of humor in several languages and a willingness to engage with the audience. “The intention is always upward, the imagery muscular, architectural.”

Land Art:

Hiroshi Teshigahara:

The Japanese artist Teshigahara uses bamboo- ledges to make landscapesculptures landscape- installations from
bent bamboo- blades

Antoon Versteegde:

This sculpture was made in cooperation of the Environmental Bamboo Foundation, the trust De Lutteltuin and the artist Anton Versteegde. It was installed within a touring exhibition at different sites.

“…..Meanwhile classical standards have become obstacles for lively arts. The artist only can recover his liberty by temporary installations, by the design of vulnerable objects, that pass like organic time bombs or are destroyed by
vandalism. A dynamic work of art only becomes alive outside the museum…” (Antoon Versteegde)

Stephen Glassman:

Stephen Glasssman is an American artist who develops among others things free form strudtural bamboo siteworks.
This bridge was calculated ba Oscar Hidalgo. It was installed in Ubud/ Bali in 1995.

Ecological orientated architecture:

This project by the engineers and designers Darren Port and Mark Roberts unites bamboo with straw- bale architecture. This building in Puerto Rico is called “hooch” by the owner. The bamboo- construction is put up on an existing concrete base with cesstank and is used like a bedroom. sun- collectors on the roof produce current for a ventilator and a small lamp.

Architects/ engineers/ specialists:

Architects and designers

  •  Prof. Cassandra Adams; Prof. at UC Berkeley specialized in construction, mainly in environment and Japanese construction
  • Jorge Arcila, Marizales – South America – “stacked house”
  • Darrel DeBoer, California
  • Doug La Barre; USA, manufacturing facility for creating laminated lumber from imported Guada
  • Bobby Manoso, Philippines
  • Michael McDonough
  • Carlos Vegara; Cali – South America (deceased ) – whole houses from bamboo, multi column system, loads carried by septum of the bamboo
  • Simón Vélez, South America
  • Marcelo Villegas, South America
  • Rocco Yim, Asia
  • Shoei Yoh, Asia


  • Karl Bareis
  • Wolfgang Eberts
  • Prof. Jules A. Janssen
  • Oscar Hidalgo


  • Anton Versteegde
  • Teshigahara


  • Vitra Design Museum, Grow your own house .


  • on 08.02.2000, 22:00
  • straw bale- architecture
  • Mendocino Bridge by McDonough
  • Shoei Yoh – ‘grating shell construction’ in photos
  • construction principles of the whire by Anton Versteegde
Contemporary Architecture

Rafael Viñoly – Tokyo International Forum


Principal Characteristics and Design Considerations:

  • Large column free spaces (Efficient structural system)
  • Pedestrian Movement
  • Clarity in organization of space
  • Display Area
  • Openings for entry of large exhibits
  • Lighting and Ventilation
  • Services (Electrical and HVAC)

Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan:

  • Completed: 1997
  • Client:  Tokyo Metropolitan Government
  • Architect: Rafael Viñoly
  • Structural: Structural Design Group Co.,Ltd
  • Site Area: 21,000 square m
  • Building Area: 7,360 square m
  • Total Floor Area: 40,400 square m
  • Length : 208 meters, Width : 31.7 meters, Height : 57.5 meters
  • Total Steel Weight : 6,600 Ton.
  • The main elements of the Forum are a 60 meter high hull-shaped glass and steel atrium on the west end of the site and a cluster of block like buildings, housing the theaters, restaurants and shops, along the east end of the site.

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Architecture Related

Japanese Gardens


  • Introduction
  • Essential Aspects
  • Design Principles
  • Basic rules in the design of  Japanese gardens
  • Elements of Japanese Garden
  • Types of Japanese Gardens
  • Case study
  • Bibliography


  • The art of gardening is believed to be an important part of Japanese culture for many centuries.
  • The garden design in Japan is strongly connected to the philosophy and religion of the country.
  • Shinto, Buddhism and Taoism were used in the creation of different garden styles in order to bring a spiritual sense to the gardens and make them places where people could spend their time in a peaceful way and meditate.

Essential Aspects:

  • The line between garden and its surrounding landscape is not distinct.
  • Gardens incorporate natural and artificial elements and thus, fuse the elements of nature and architecture.
  • In the Japanese garden, the viewer should consider nature as a picture frame into which the garden, or the man- made work of art, is inserted.

Design Principles:

  • Nature is the ideal that you must strive for. You can idealize it, even symbolize it, but you must never create something that nature itself cannot.
  • Balance, or sumi. The proportions and spaces are an essential Design principle
  • The “emptiness” of portions of the garden. This space, or ma, defines the elements around it, and is also defined by the elements surrounding it. It is the true spirit of yin and yang. Without nothing, you cannot have something. It is a central tenet of Japanese gardening.

Formality :

  • Hill and pond and flat styles can be shin (formal), gyo (intermediate) or so (informal).
  • Formal styles were most often found at temples or palaces,
  • the intermediate styles were appropriate for most residences, and
  • the informal style was relegated to peasant huts and mountain retreats. The tea garden is always in the informal style.

Concept of Time and Space:

  • The concept of wabi and sabi:
  • Wabi can denote something one-of-a-kind, or the spirit of something. Sabi defines time or the ideal image of something. While a cement lantern may be one of a kind, it lacks that ideal image. A rock can be old and covered with lichens, but if it is just a round boulder it has no wabi. We must strive to find that balance
  • Both the concepts of ma and wabi/sabi deal with time and space. Where the garden is our space, time is ably presented by the changing seasons. Unlike the western gardener  the Japanese garden devotee visits and appreciates the garden in all the seasons.
The changes with seasons:
  • In spring one revels in the bright green of new buds and the blossoms of the azaleas.
  • In summer you appreciate the contrasts of the lush foliage painted against the cool shadows and the splash of koi in the pond.
  • Fall wrests the brilliant colors from dying leaves as they slip into the deathly hush of winter, the garden buried under a shroud of snow.
  • Winters is as much a garden season in Japan as spring. The Japanese refer to snow piled on the branches of trees as sekku, or snow blossoms, and there is a lantern known as yukimi that is named the snow viewing lantern.
Miegakure or hide and reveal:
  • The fence is a tool to enhance  the concept of miegakure, or hide and reveal.
  • Many of the fence styles offer only the merest of visual screens, and will be supplemented with a screen planting, offering just the ghostly hints of the garden behind. Sometimes a designer will cut a small window in a solid wall to present the passerby with a tantalizing glimpse of what lies beyond.
  • Even if we enter the house to view the garden we may well encounter sode-gaki, or sleeve fences. This is a fence that attaches to an architectural structure, be it a house or another fence, to screen a specific view. To view the garden as a whole one must enter it and become one with the garden. This is the final step in the true appreciation of the garden, to lose oneself in it until time and self have no meaning.

Basic rules in the design of  Japanese gardens:

  • Natural: that should make the garden look as if it grew by itself
  • Asymmetry: that creates the impression of it being natural
  • Odd numbers: It supports the effect of the asymmetry
  • Simplicity: that follows the idea of ‘less is more’
  • Triangle: that is the most common shape for compositions made of stones, plants, etc.
  • Contrast: that creates tension between elements
  • Lines: that can create both tranquility and tension
  • Curves: that softens the effect
  • Openness: that indicates interaction between all elements

Basic elements in Japanese gardens

  • a stone lantern representing four natural elements: earth, water, fire and wind
  • statues of male and female lions, placed at the entrance of the garden in order to protect the garden from intruders, representing the two opposite forces: yin and yang (fire and water, male and female).
  • water basin known as a deer chaser, which keep deer away by making a special sound when filled up
  • the koi fish swimming in ponds, which has a decorative meaning
  • typical Japanese bridge, called a moonbridge, whose purpose is to reflect artistic feelings.

Elements of Japanese Gardens:

  • Ponds, waterfalls, wells, bridges (real or symbolic)
  • Stepping stones, Garden paths
  • Stone water basins, stone lanterns
  • Garden plants and trees
  • Fences and walls
  • Stones


  • It represents the sea, lake, pond or river in nature.
  • Non geometrical in appearance; in order to preserve the natural shapes, man- made ponds are asymmetrical.
  • The bank of the pond is usually bordered by stones
  • A fountain is sometimes found at the bottom of a hill or hillside or secluded forest.
  • Wells are sometimes found in a Japanese garden.
Paths or tobi-ishi:
  • Usually used in tea gardens.
  • flat stepping stones served to preserve the grass as well as orient the viewer to a specific visual experience.
  • step- stones are found near the veranda or entrance of the house or tea room. The visitor of the house or room is expected to place his shoes on the step- stone before entering.
Water basins & lanterns:
  • Two kinds of stone water basins-
  • kazari- chozubachi, which is kept near the  verandah
  • tsukubai for tea garden
  • Stone lanterns are placed besides prominent water basins whose luminance underscored the unfinished beauty of the tea aesthetic.


  • Garden of the 10th to 12th centuries contained cherry, plum trees, pines and willows
  • Influence of the Zen sect and watercolor painting from Southern China transformed the colorful Japanese garden in the Middle Ages.
  • Flowers, flowering plants and shrubs were regarded as signs of frivolity and were replaced by evergreen trees that symbolized eternity.
Trees in Japanese Gardens:
  • Japanese garden is predominately green with its use of evergreen trees.
  • When flowering trees found in Japanese garden  are camelias, specifically the tsubaki and sazanka.

Japanese Fir:
  • Scientific Name: Abies Firma
  • Habitat: Evergreen

  • Texture: Coarse
  • Height: 40’ to 70’
  • Leaf: 1.5″ dark green needles are notched at base; sharp prickly point
  • Flower/Fruit: 3.5 to 5″ brown cones

Japanese stripped-bark maple

  • Scientific Name: Acer capillipes
  • Habit: Deciduous
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; prefers moist, well drained soil
  • Texture: Medium
  • Form: Round head; low branches
  • Height: 30 to 35’
  • Flower/Fruit: Greenish white flowers on 2.5 to 4″ pendulous raceme; attractive samara in fall

Japanese maple :

  • Scientific Name: Acer palmatum
  • Growth Rate: Slow to moderate
  • Site Requirements: Light dappled shade; evenly moist, well drained soil; protect from drying winds
  • Texture: Medium to fine
  • Form: Low; dense rounded top; spreading branches; assumes a layered look
  • Height: 15 to 25′
  • Flower/Fruit: Small red to purple flowers; attractive if viewed closely but insignificant from a distance

Japanese alder :

  • Scientific Name: Alnus japonica
  • Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; range of soil types including wet and infertile soil
  • Form: Slender, narrow upright habit
  • Height: 12 to 25’
  • Leaf: Oval, narrow leaves
  • Flower/Fruit: Yellow brown to red brown catkins (male flowers); female flowers on short purplish brown strobili which persist until winter

Japanese angelica tree:

  • Scientific Name: Aralia elata
  • Growth Rate: Rapid
  • Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; range of soil types but prefers moist, well drained soil
  • Texture: Medium
  • Form: Irregular to spreading; often multi-stemmed
  • Height: 20 to 40’
  • Leaf: 3 to 5.5″ compound leaves; yellow to reddish purple fall color
  • Flower/Fruit: 12 to 18″ white flowers in August; purple fruit

Japanese cherry birch :

  • Scientific Name:Betula grossa
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Site Requirements: Sun; moist well drained soil
  • Texture: Medium
  • Form: Pyramidal
  • Height: 20 to 25′
  • Leaf: 2 to 4″ alternate, simple leaves; yellow fall color
  • Flower/Fruit: Nonshowy flowers

Japanese hornbeam:

  • Scientific Name: Carpinus japonica
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Site Requirements: Sun to light shade; moist well drained soil but tolerates a range of soil types
  • Texture: Medium
  • Form: Rounded; densely branched; wide spreading branches
  • Height: 20 to 30′
  • Leaf: 2 to 4.5″ leaves; yellow to nonshowy fall color
  • Flower/Fruit: 2 to 2.5″ fruit

Japanese cornel dogwood:

  • Scientific Name:Cornus officinalis
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; range of soil types
  • Texture: Medium
  • Form: Picturesque; multi-stemmed ; low branches; oval to round habit
  • Height: 15 to 25′
  • Leaf: 4″ opposite, simple leaves; purple fall color
  • Flower/Fruit: Cluster of short stalked yellow flowers with drooping bracts on naked stems in early spring; .5″ shiny red fruit in clusters in fall

Japanese cedar:

  • Scientific Name: Cryptomeria japonica
  • Habit: Evergeen
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Site Requirements: Sun to light, high shade; rich deep, well drained soil but will thrive in a range of soil types
  • Texture: Fine to medium
  • Form: Pyramidal; semiformal
  • Height: 50 to 60′
  • Leaf: Awl shaped, bright to blue-green foliage; smooth to the touch; bronze tones in winter, especially if exposed to wind.
  • Flower/Fruit: Small terminal cones

Fences and walls:

  • There are three types of fences:
  • the short fence which extends from the house into the garden
  • an inner fence and an outer fence.
  • Short fences or sodegaki are screens that hide unwanted views or objects.
  • They are about 6 or 7 feet high.
  • Add color and texture to the garden.
  • Materials used are bamboo, wood and twigs of bamboo or tree.

Garden Enclosures:

  • For the garden to be a true retreat, we must first seal it away from the outside world. Once it is enclosed, we must create a method (and a mindset) to enter and leave our microcosm. Fences and gates are as important to the Japanese garden as lanterns and maples.
  • As with most things associated with the garden the fence and gates have deep symbolic meaning as well as specific function. We are encouraged to view the garden as a separate world in which we have no worries or concerns. The fence insulates us from the outside world and the gate is the threshold where we both discard our worldly cares and then prepare ourselves to once again face the world.
  • Courtyards include a modern alfresco (sheltered outdoor living) area with a lush backdrop of plants.
  • Stones are fundamental elements of Japanese gardens.
  • Stones used are not quarried by the hand of man, but of stones shaped by nature only
  • Used to construct the garden’s paths, bridges, and walkways.
  • Represent a geological presence where actual mountains are not viewable or present. They are placed in odd numbers and a majority of the groupings reflect triangular shapes
  • They are artificial mountains usually, built in gardens.
  • Generally between one and five of the hills are built.
  • They are made up of ceramics, dried wood or strangely-shaped stones.
Suikinkutsu (Water Harp Hollow):
  • Refers to a relatively small cave or hollow set underneath the ground near a washbasin in the garden.
  • The hollow produces a harp-like echoing sound effect as water drips into the hollow. Thus, it provides a mysterious sound for people strolling through the garden.
  • They are generally located the at gates of the garden.
  • The excess water running over the edge of the tsukubai drops down onto polished pebbles below.
  • Below the ground is another large basin, often a ceramic vase.
Bonsai and bonseki:
  • The art of Bonsai involves the training of everyday shrubs such as pine, cypress, holly, cedar, cherry, maple, and beech to look like old, large trees in miniature form.
  • The trees are usually less than one meter high and kept small by pruning, re-potting, growth pinching, and wiring the branches.
  • Bonseki is the art of developing miniature landscapes which may include smallest of rock pieces to represent mountains.
Scenery Methods:
  • The Japanese garden can include three possible methods for scenery:
  • The first is the reduced scale scenery method. The reduced scale method takes actual natural elements and reproduces them on a smaller scale.
  • The second technique called symbolization and it involves generalization and abstraction; this could be accomplished by using white sand to simulate the ocean.
  • Borrowed views is a technique that refers to artistic use of elements that imply scenes other than those actually portrayed. An example of this would be a painting of a house in the city with a seaside dock in the middle of the street to imply a seascape scene.
  1. Karesansui Gardens or dry gardens
  2. Tsukiyama Gardens or hill garden
  3. Chaniwa Gardens or tea gardens
  • Also known as rock gardens and waterless stream gardens.
  • Influenced by Zen Buddhism and can be found at Zen temples of meditation
  • Found in the front or rear gardens at the residences.
  • No water presents in gardens. raked gravel or sand that simulates the feeling of water.
  • The rocks/gravel used are chosen for their artistic shapes, and mosses as well as small shrubs.
  • Plants are much less important (and sometimes nonexistent)
  • Rocks and moss are used to represent ponds, islands, boats, seas, rivers, and mountains in an abstract way.
  • Gardens were meant to be viewed from a single, seated perspective.
  • Rocks in karesansui are often associated with Chinese mountains such as Mt. Penglai or Mt. Lu. Karesansui.
  • Stones are usually off-white or grey though the occasional red or black stone were added later.
  • They strive to make a smaller garden appear more spacious.
  • Shrubs are utilized to block views of surrounding buildings.
  • The gardens main focus is on nearby mountains in the distance.
  • The garden has the mountains as part of its grounds.
  • Ponds, streams, hills, stones, trees, flowers, bridges, and paths are also used frequently in this style as opposed to a flat garden.
  • They are built for tea ceremonies.
  • Tea house is where the ceremonies occur, and the styles of both the hut and garden are based off the simple concepts of the sado.
  • There are stepping stones leading to the tea house, stone lanterns, and stone basins where guests purify themselves before a ceremony.
  • The teahouse is screened by hedges to create a sense of remoteness
Courtyard Gardens – Tsubo Niwa:
  • Courtyard gardens are small gardens.
  • One tsubo is a Japanese measurement equaling 3.3 square meters
  • The origin of the tsubo niwa lies in the 15th century when Japan’s economy was thriving. A lot of merchants had large house with several storage buildings around it. The first courtyard gardens were made in the open spaces between the house and the storage buildings.
  • The elements of a courtyard garden are similar to the elements of a tea garden, however more shade tolerant plants are used. The design principles of traditional Japanese courtyard gardens, are very suited for create contemporary small spaces on roofs or terraces
Strolling gardens – Tsukiyama:
  • These are large landscape gardens. Often existing landscapes are reproduced on a smaller scale, or an imaginary landscape is created.
Strolling gardens – Kaiyu-Shikien:
  • These are pleasure gardens, mostly built during the Edo-period. Most of these gardens are now public parks

Case Studies

  1. Ryoan – Ji temple, Kyoto
  2. Katsura imperial palace garden, Kyoto

Ryoan – Ji temple, Kyoto

  • Ryoan-ji (or The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon) is a Zen temple located in northwest Kyoto, Japan. Belonging to the Myoshin-ji school of the Rinzai branch of Zen Buddhism, the temple is one of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • An object of interest near the rear of the monks quarters is the carved stone receptacle into which water for ritual purification continuously flows. This is the Ryoan-ji tsukubai, which translates literally as “crouch;” and the lower elevation of the basin requires the user to bend a little bit to reach the water, which suggests supplication and reverence.
  • To many, the temple’s name is synonymous with the temple’s famous karesansui (dry landscape) rock garden, thought to have been built in the late 1400s.
  • The garden consists of raked gravel and fifteen moss-covered boulders, which are placed so that, when looking at the garden from any angle only fourteen of the boulders are visible at one time.
  • It is traditionally said that only through attaining enlightenment would one be able to view the fifteenth boulder.
  • The researchers propose that the implicit structure of the garden is designed to appeal to the viewers unconscious visual sensitivity to axial-symmetry skeletons of stimulus shapes. In support of their findings, they found that imposing a random perturbation of the locations of individual rock features destroyed the special characteristics.
  • Lake of 1.25 hectares was dug, hills and islands were formed, beaches made, pavilions built and planting undertaken.
  • Has 16 bridges connecting the lake.
  • Lake used for boating parties and the surrounding land as a stroll garden, in effect a tea garden on an enormous scale.
  • The ‘Katsura Tree’ (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) was associated with the God of the Moon and the garden has a platform to view its rising.
  • There are 23 stone lanterns to light the stroll path after dark.
  • Stone basins were used for hand-washing before a tea ceremony.
  • Garden designed not only for meditation (Zen) but also for ceremonious courtly pleasures.
  • Japanese Gardens by Gunter Nitschke
  • Slawson, David A. Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens
  • Yagi, Koji A Japanese Touch for Your Home

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Born in 1957 in Tokyo, Japan
  • Shigeru Ban studied at the Southern California Institute of Architecture and later went on to Cooper Union’s School of Architecture
  • Profiled by Time Magazine in their projection of 21st century innovators in the field of architecture and design
  • Shigeru Ban was the winner in 2005 at age 48 of the 40th annual Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
  • Inspired by Architect John Hejduk
  • 2003 the finalist of the New York WTC Ground Zero Competition


  • Work reflects blend of his American Architectural training and his native Japanese influences.
  • Adopts a construction method in which the structure is integrated into an over all design.
  • Innovative exploration and Integration of materials so as to enhance their structural potential.
  • Materials ranging from Paper, wood, bamboo and steel.
  • As a Japanese architect….
  • …..uses themes and methods found in traditional Japanese architecture
  • …..the concept of modules taken forward – ‘Tatami’
  • —  Making the spaces free flowing with structures being ‘invisible’….
  • …..avoiding overtly expression of structural elements and incorporating it in the design….
  • As an Ecological architect….
  • …..” I don’t like waste” – Shigeru Ban
  • —  Most-famous now for his innovative work with paper and cardboard tubing as a material for building construction.
  • —  “…even in disaster areas, I want to create beautiful buildings, this is what it means to build a monument for common people…”
  • —  Known for his innovation with building materials

—  Known as the ‘Paper Architect’……


  • 2002 Forest Park Pavilion Prototype-Rice University Art Gallery, Houston, USA
  • 2000 PAM-A, Mishima, Shizuoka
  • 2000 Naked House, Kawagoe
  • 2000 Expo 2000 Hannover Japan Pavilion – Paper Tube Structure-13, Germany
  • 1999 Paper Tube shelters for refugees in Rwanda – Paper Tube Structure-10
  • 1997 Wall-less-House, Karuizawa, Nagano
  • 1995 Paper Church – Paper Tube Structure -08, Kobe, Hyogo
  • 1995 Paper Log House – Paper Tube Structure -07, Kobe, Hyogo, Bhuj
  • 1995 Curtain Wall House, Tokyo
  • 1994 Issey Miyake Gallery – Paper Tube Structure -06, Tokyo
  • 1991 Library of a poet – Paper Tube Structure -04, Zushi, Kanagawa
  • 1990Odawara Pavilion – Paper Tube Structure -02
  • 1987Villa K, Tateshina, Nagano
  • 1986Villa TCG, Tateshina, Nagano
  • 1986″Alvar Aalto” Exhibition design, Axis Gallery, Tokyo


  • This was the first project in which paper tubes were authorized for use as a structural basis in a permanent building.
  • a S-shape configuration comprised of 110 paper tubes (2.7m high, 275mm in inner diameter and 148mm thick) defines the interior and exterior areas of the paper house.
  • designing it in a big S-shaped circle, he retained the flow between inside and out with clear walls
  • tent-like curtains, which can be drawn for privacy in summer and shut in winter for warmth and insulation.
  • to link his interiors with the world outside.
  • “I always like to connect inside and outside space and make a kind of intermediate space in between”
  • The large circle formed by the interior tubes forms a big area
  • a free standing paper tubes column with a 1.2m diameter in the surrounding gallery contains a toilet
  • the exterior paper tubes surrounding the courtyard stand apart from the structure and serve as a screen
  • the living area in the large circle is without furnishing or details other than an isolated kitchen counter, sliding doors, and movable closets
  • the roof, supported by the colonnade of paper tubes, is visually emphasized


—  Ban assembled a team of students from his research center  banlab, and the Hironori Matsubara Lab at Keio University, along with volunteer teachers from around China, who were assigned by the country’s education ministry.

—  They can be moulded into load-bearing columns, bent into trusses and rapidly assembled, and can be made waterproof and fire resistant. Because paper tubes are available in various thickness and diameters, they can be added to a structure to support more weight as necessary.

—  The roofs are made of plywood, and polycarbonate and PTFE was used as insulation


—  Project completion date : August 2002

—  Set in a context of a private house and two storey regional hospital building

—  The main volume of the structure functions as a gymnasium as well as concert hall and annex spaces of the ellipse contain swimming pool, changing room and piano room.

—  980 square meter space enclosed by an elliptical dome.

—  The dome is constructed with LSL (laminated strand lumber) and steel pipe members

—  It has classic styles of Japanese technical purism by means of a construction method characteristic of technological globalization process.

—  The main structure is placed underground, only the dome and the eaves of the two entrances are visible

—  The region is known for its heavy snowfall piling up to shoulder heights.

—  The aesthetic structural components enhance the lighting quality of the space.

—  The plan of the dome is elliptical and is supported by 2 sets of arches.


—  Arches spanning in one direction generate lateral stability for arches in other direction

—  Pentagonal trussed arch along minor axis provide space within themselves for Vierendeel arches spanning along major axis

—  Interconnection of two arches in opposite direction generates multi skinned grid dome as one structure.

—  The whole assembly is then covered with strips of light weight polycarbonate sheets thus allowing diffused light to enter the space.

—  Both Arches are composed of LSL (Laminated Strand Lumber) and steel pipe sections and plates.

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Contemporary Architecture



  • Tadao Ando was born in Osaka in 1941
  • 1962-69 – is self-taught in architecture and travel
  • USA, Europe, Africa.
  • 1969 – Founding of the study ‘Tadao Ando Architect   & Associates’, Osaka, Japan.
  • 1969 – He taught at Yale University.
  • 1969 – He taught at Columbia University.
  • 1979 – Prize of the Architectural Institute of Japan.
  • 1989 – ‘Gold Medal’ of the French Academy of Architecture.
  • 1985 – Alvar Aalto Medal.
  • 1992 – Carlsberg Architectural Prize.
  • 1994 – The Japan Art Grand Prix.
  • 1995 – The Asahi Prize.
  • 1995 – The Pritzker Architecture Prize.
  • 1996 – The 8th Praemium Imperiale.
  • 1997 – RIBA’s Gold Medal, London.
  • 2002 – Honorary Doctorate conferred from the Faculty of Architecture, Rome.


“Covered in snow from December to April, the area becomes a beautiful white expanse of land. Water has been diverted from a nearby river, and a man-mane pond 90×45 meters has been created. The depth of the pond was carefully set so that the surface of the water would be subtlu affected by the wind, and even a slight breeze would cause ripples.” Tadao Ando.


Tomamu, Yusutsu County, Hokkaido,

Japan Climate:  Japan has a very varied climate for its remarkable development latitude, summer is tropical while winter is cold and rainy.

Temperature:  Winter -4 ° C, summer 20-21 ° C


  • Architect: Tadao Ando
  • Committee: local government
  • Project: 09.1985-04.1988
  • Completion: 04.1988-09.1988
  • Structural engineer: Ascoral Engineering Associates
  • Building company: Obayashi Corporation Co.
  • Structure: Reinforced concrete
  • Built area: 344.9 sqm
  • Total area: 520 sqm


  • The chapel is placed on a mountain plateau central Hokkaido, the coldest region in Japan, where nature is wild.
  • The entire area, is green from spring to summer, and in winter strips turned into a white expanse.
  • In plan, the chapel is formed by the overlapping of two squares, one small and one large, and overlooks a pond made by diverting a stream that flows through the vicinity.
  • A wall independent, L-shaped around the rear of the building and on one side of the pond.
  • The chapel is entered from the back and along the path approaching the wall.
  • The murmur of the water takes visitors along the way, without, however, that they see the lake.
  • After a hundred and eighty degree turn, go up a gently sloping path to reach an area of access to the Chapel is closed on four sides by glass, a kind of container of light.
  • Traveled to scale curve that leads to the chapel, the visitor finds the view of the lake through the glass wall in front of the altar you can see the expanse of water and a large cross.


  • This chair was specifically designed for this church.
  • The chair has a relaxing effect on its user, and echoes the brilliant inspiration of a church that calls to awaken the senses and brotherhood with nature.

Style and Philosophy:

  • Considered a patron oother projectsf Minimalism but doesn’t compromises with the design
  • Pure space enveloped in concrete rectangular forms – pure space and simple form
  • The column has become merely a symbol that addresses culture and history
  • Extensive use of Concrete and glass in the pure form
  • Interior of the building are the form itself, ridicules the idea of masking it
  • Simplified, rectilinear forms and bare, naked concrete walls that define the spaces within
  • Style- element of Light, Water through concrete and glass

Other projects:

  • Church of Light
  • International Library of Children’s Literature (2002)
  • Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum and Annex
  • The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art in the city of Kobe opened in 2001. The sea-facing concrete, stone and glass building, located in Kobe’s newly developed waterfront area, is a symbol of recovery in a city which was devastated by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995.
  • Tadao Ando’s cylindrical, one-story “Space for Contemplation” in the UNESCO compound, is paved with granite slabs from Hiroshima that were irradiated during the explosion of the H-bomb in August, 1945.
  • Tadao Ando Langen Foundation,Neuss, Germany
  • Nagaragawa Convention Center

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