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Spirit in tension: Pagoda by Takashi Fujino / Ikimono Architects + Sunao Koase + Maniackers Design

tower in landscape

Philosophers have grappled with the idea of an object, a place, or being, having spirit, throughout the ages. Culturally such notions are well developed in Japan where the spirits of certain inanimate objects such as particular rocks, are sometimes revered. Prosaic questions such as what is the spirit, and when is it present are perhaps missing the point, but when people respond to a spontaneous manifestation of spirit in a particular place, there is something to note.

This is what happened with the Pagoda, an elegant polished tower designed by Takashi Fujino / Ikimono Architects + Sunao Koase + Maniackers Design. Located near the holy mountain of Takeyama, where beliefs were collected since ancient times, the tower sways in delicate tension with nature.

The tower is 40m high yet is just 1m wide and is made from thin reflective sheet material which is recycled from the film industry. The steel that forms the tower is held in tension by guide wires fixed to the top and tied back to ground in the same way a longbow is tensioned.

In engineering terms it is exciting, but it is the effect of the reflections – their ambiguity in the polished finish that is most arresting. There is a fire spark of light when the sun catches the tower, but the structure also reflects the weather and its environment in particular ways, causing a sort of temporal disruption in the passing of a cloud, or a distortion in the sway of a tree as it is reflected out of context. In the wind the tower sways, the light-lever effect amplifies the reflections in a disconcerting, and apparently magical way.

Strong winds will destroy the tower, but it will be rebuilt and the mirror, reflecting the spirit of the place, will be reborn.

People prey at the base of this sculpture.

tower in landscape and sky

a streak of sun

flexing in the wind

more wind flex

flexing in the landsacpe

tied in the landscape

sky reflections

in a stormy sky

detail of scale

more reflections

detail of reflection

detail of base

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