architexts

6

Anti-Metabolists

Mayumi Miyawaki is a Japanese architect, he inherited a great skill in drawing from his father, Kazuo Miyawaki, and his mother, both of whom were artists, and he studied first at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music (BA, 1959); he then specialized in urban design at the University of Tokyo (Master of Technology, 1961). In the late 1960s and early 1970s he conducted scholarly studies of historic Japanese villages. The first major project was in 1966 with the design of a house called Chalet Moby Dick, near Lake Yamanaka and Mount Fuji in the Yamanashi prefecture. This building incorporated characteristics of both Shinto and Buddhist architecture on the outside, with a cavelike interior, it was demolished by its new owners during the nineties. 

In 1971 he formed the avant-garde, counter-Metabolist group ARCHITEXT, a loose-knit association of young architects who first exhibited in Tokyo in 1971. It included four  architects, Aida Takefumi, Azuma Takamitsu, Suzuki Makoto, Takeyama Minoru.

Takeyama’s pursuit of architectural ‘heterology’ and Azuma’s concern for 'polyphony’ express the diversity of approach that characterized ArchiteXt; in addition, the group was responsible for promoting so-called 'pop architecture,’ 'defensive architecture,’ 'vanishing architecture,’ and what Aida named the 'architecture of silence’.

Many of this group’s works “reveal an introverted or defensive attitude towards their neighborhoods; in this respect they were the forerunners of the residential architecture of such younger architects as Toyokazu Watanabe, Toyo Ito, and especially Tadao Ando. Other architects who devoted attention to architectural communication include Kito (Monta) Mozuna and Team Zoo - Atelier Zo (established 1971), other began to "turn their backs on the city,” confronted with commercialism, pollution and alienation.

Miyawaki’s designs in the 1970’s were governed by his idea of ‘primary architecture’, characterized by the manipulation of cubic form, an emphasis on bright colors, interesting windows and skylights, and the creation of warm interiors. His use of the concrete box reflected his defensive attitude towards the disturbing influence of the external urban environment. Examples include the series of Akita Sogo Bank branches (Morioka and Sendai, 1970; Futsatsui, 1971; Honjō, 1973) and many ‘box’ houses such as Blue Box (1971), Tokyo, Green Box (Nos 1 and 2, 1972), Kanagawa Prefecture, Yoshimi Box (1979), Yokohama, and Matsukawa Box houses (1971 and 1978), Tokyo, for which he received the Architectural Institute of Japan prize (1980). His work in the 1980’s increasingly combined elements of traditional Japanese architectural form with those of modern living spaces. 

Blue Box, 1971. This residence was designed by Mayumi Miyawaki in 1971, the bright blue exterior is typical of the architects style at the time. An original feature of this concrete box-shaped building is the opening underneath the cantilever which allows for bamboo to grow up within the structure to a courtyard area above. This has now been filled in along with the graffiti style artwork that adorned the street level garage space.

The Moby Dick, 1966. Near the Lake Yamanaka and Mount Fuji, chalet was designed for the wealthy manufacturer as his second home. Architect Miyawaki established his studio only two years before this commission and in his portfolio he had two completed houses only. For him it was the great occasion to experiment, because client had given the young architect free rein. So after the mentioned Octopus chalet and Rice Ball house, Miyawaki designed this house as a free form whale looking building with delicate woodwork and openings and views into the nature. Perfect architectural solution created harmony between the new house and nature. The main element is the curvy roof, which gave the house its name Moby Dick. Inside, it created the upturned boat shape ceiling with the strong dramatic feeling. Nice example of the Japanese architectural experiments of 1960s was demolished by the new owner in 1990s. 

Bibliography 

I. Kurita, ed.: Miyawaki Mayumi, Gendai Nihon kenchikuka zenshū [Complete collection of modern Japanese architects], xxiv (Tokyo, 1973) 

Japan Architect, 292 (1981) [whole issue] 

The 70-story RCA Building. 30 Rockefeller Plaza, between West 49th to 50th Streets and Fifth to Avenue of the Americas. Rockefeller Center. Associated Architects (Reinhard & Hofmeister; Corbett, Harrison & MacMurray; Raymond Hood, Godley & Fouilhoux), 1931-1933. 

View looking west of the new RCA Building, at Rockefeller Center from the top of 444 Madison Avenue Building, in the Summer of 1933. The Center’s 32-story RKO Building (Associateda Architext, 1932) with Radio City Music Hall is at right.

Photo: Rockefeller Center, Inc.

Source: Alan Balfour “Rockefeller Center. Architecture as Theater” (New York. McGraw-Hill. 1978).