Architecture & Living

The vernacular house versus the monumental public building, the anonymous local architect-builder versus the commissioned cosmopolitan architect: architecture excites me in these oppositions. I combine Architecture & Living here because how we choose to live is the most important decision we make. Our opinions of architecture symbolize our opinions about the right way to live.

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Architecture

John Ciardullo Associates; Society and Architecture

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Oita Stadium: The Aesthetics of Balance

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Fukui Prefectural Dinosaur Museum: A Prehistoric Story Told

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Kyoto Traditional Houses

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Toyota City Stadium: Nature & Technology, Deep Symbiosis

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Kyoto Traditional Houses

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If Thatch Went Global

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Interview with Hazel Henderson

"Whether we designate them as 'Energy Crises,' 'Environmental Crises,' 'Urban Crises,' or 'Population Crises,' we should recognize the extent to which they all are rooted in the larger crisis of our inadequate, narrow perceptions of reality." More...

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A Winter Retreat

This was my first attempt to describe the 'telescoping of time' that occurred in Japan as the cities began to modernize and urbanites to base their lives on commerce, while life in the countryside remained much as it had for centuries. As the snow got deeper, we left the village less and less frequently, and tourists from the cities thinned out to almost nothing. Our little village of Miyama, with its thatched roofs and open hearths, seemed to recede into the past. More...

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Japanese Working for A Better World

This is the first book in English to introduce the grassroots groups and activists of Japan. It includes interviews with 47 representative citizen activists and an access guide to 754 citizens groups, ordered according to genre. Japanese Working for A Better World is a map to the Japanese citizens' movement and, including specific requests to readers, is a powerful call to arms directed to global citizens everywhere. More..

Thatch And Other Metaphors

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"Thatch" refers to any plant material used on a roof. It's always been beautiful to me, but until I lived beneath a thatched roof I had no idea of its significance. Thatch is used everywhere, but it's locally determined; in Ireland they may use seaweed near the ocean, but in my part of Japan, the roofs were covered in miscanthus grass. In England, thatching was what people did with the wheat straw after they'd threshed it. Thatch is a metaphor for the right way to connect with the earth. The "McMansion," on the other hand, is a metaphor for the wrong way. Both intrigue me. How can we be drawn to both solutions to the question of how to live?

Thatch

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Maggie's Sino-European Experiment

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Living in Grass Houses

Japan Quarterly Jul/Sept 1999

In most areas of rural Japan, where the thatched house is the prominent vernacular form, the burden of preservation is on the owner. Why should we bother to halt their decline? Edward S. Morse wrote in 1885 "The thatched roof is picturesque and...

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Living in Grass Houses

Japan Quarterly Jul/Sept 1999

In most areas of rural Japan, where the thatched house is the prominent vernacular form, the burden of preservation is on the owner. Why should we bother to halt their decline? Edward S. Morse wrote in 1885 "The thatched roof is picturesque and warm, and makes a good rain-shed." Japanese architect and folk architecture expert Kawashima Chuji praised thatch for its light weight and insulation (R value of 80, twice conventional 'modern' materials), and also that thatch muffles the sound of rain, hardly an insignificant point, since Japan gets between 1,000 and 2,500 millimeters of rain a year. Thatch is ecological, recyclable, renewable and non-polluting. Karl Bengs, German-born, Japan-based architect, says, "Like a child, an old building must be looked after, cared for, nurtured." And like the mother who bore us, she must be respected--not buried alive in a tin casket--nor left alone to die.

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Propping up the Art of Thatching

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If Thatch Went Global

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Chilchinbito

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