The Hidden Order: Tokyo Through the Twentieth Century

Yoshinobu Ashihara, Author Kodansha America $17.95 (158p) ISBN 978-0-87011-912-5
Tokyo may strike the Western tourist as a jumble of buildings, yet there is a hidden order in this ``ugly, chaotic metropolis,'' as Ashihara calls it. In his delightful, instructive essay, the architect who designed Tokyo's Sony Building seeks out the elemental roots of Japanese architecture. Without idealizing the cramped, shoddy, ``bedroom-like'' dwellings he finds all too common, he meditates on the ``noncommittal'' interior space of Japanese rooms, the love of shadows and wooden surfaces, the intimacy of a ``floor-oriented'' lifestyle. These features, combined with flexible building codes, contribute to the ``fluid, regenerating, amoeba-like'' quality of Tokyo, a city constantly reinventing itself in response to the crush of development. Ashihara writes in a simple, unpretentious, down-to-earth style. He chooses comparative examples well and widely, from Palladio and Alvar Aalto to the clean lines of Paris and China's modernist architecture, which he finds clumsy in its handling of details. Photos. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1989
Release date: 04/01/1989
Paperback - 978-4-7700-1664-5
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