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Junya Ishigami, Exhibition, Paris

Freed from Convention: Junya Ishigami, Freeing Architecture

The Freeing Architecture exhibition, curated by Isabelle Gaudefroy at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, has taken 20 projects to document Junya Ishigami’s understanding of contemporary architecture. As a former SANAA student, Ishigami’s heritage of delicate, transparent-seeming architecture may be easily recognized, but his portfolio goes beyond this stylistic canon. His sylvan structures for the KAIT Workshop Building in Kanagawa, the cloud and water landscape of Copenhagen’s House of Peace, which appears to float, and the cave-like home in poured concrete of the House and Restaurant in Yamaguchi come together here.

The curatorial focus shows us the connection between architecture and the environment. Although the relationship between people and nature plays a great role in Japanese culture, Ishigami does not take a genuinely Japanese attitude, rather a cosmopolitan one, when he asks how architecture affects our environment and society in the 21st century. In doing so, he does not hesitate to break with architectural conventions in order to promote the rethinking of the fundamentals of architecture.

Each project is illustrated by a handmade model conceptualized expressly for this exhibition. Moreover, handwritten notes from Ishigami explain the many design processes at work. The show is complemented by a film which presents the individual projects in a poetic style of narration and offers visitors space to think about what architecture can be today. The concept behind the exhibition is more than a descriptive treatment of Ishigami’s completed and current works, but explicitly represents an intellectual challenge – all under the aegis of <Penser l’architecture librement – Thinking about architecture freely>.

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