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Junya Ishigami


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Junya Ishigami was born in Kanagawa (Japan) in 1974 and graduated from Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music. From 2000 he worked for Kazuyo Sejima & Associates, before founding in 2004 his own practice junya.ishigami+associates, an international architecture firm based in Tokyo.

The firm gained international recognition following the completion of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop in 2007, which was awarded the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize in 2009. Similar success followed with exhibitions at the 11th and 12th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia, where junya.ishigami+associates was awarded the Golden Lion for the Best Project of the 12th Biennale in 2010.

The office has continued to enjoy growing foreign attention for the wide range of design possibilities it explores, from numerous exhibitions and installation projects, such as ‘Balloon’ and ‘Table’, to large scale construction commissions. Current projects include the Kanagawa Institute of Technology cafeteria, the redevelopment of the Russian Polytechnic Museum in Moscow, the Atsugi City urban design and development (Kanagawa prefecture, Japan), and the Park Groot Vijversburg Project in the Netherlands. Regardless of scale, each project is approached from a limitless and open-ended creative perspective to deliver a unique and inspiring outcome.

Junya Ishigami has been associate professor at the Tohoku University (2010), and visiting professor in Harvard (2014) and Princeton (2015).


Fifth Edition 2015-2016

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The Jury have unanimously assigned the BSI Swiss Architectural Award 2016 to Junya Ishigami for the Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop (Kanagawa, Japan), for his intervention at the Japanese Pavilion at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia (2008) and for his “House with plants” realised in Tokyo’s suburbs for a couple of young spouses.
According to the Jury, “Junya Ishigami’s buildings create spaces of great beauty and serenity, which impose themselves with unusual iconic strength”, while providing substantial answers to specific functional needs. Junya Ishigami’s three works involve, in particular, “innovative structural research with no heroism, which results in delicately refined architecture” and “a promising relationship with the vegetal world, interpreted and presented in ever changing ways” ranging from a building as a metaphor of a forest, in the case of the Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop, to completely integrated vegetation in the case of the “House with plants”.

Kanagawa Institute of Technology Workshop

Kanagawa (Japan), 2004-2008

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Conceive a building as if planning a forest.
A multipurpose studio that students can use freely, designed for a university campus. The façades are glass; there are no walls. Both structurally and in terms of planning, it is composed of 305 columns, only, none of which are identical in proportion and orientation. It is a one-room space of 2000 m2. Depending on where we stand, however, we experience in each case a completely different 2000 m2 room. Each time we step forward, the entire large room transforms like a kaleidoscope.
When designing a building, I do not simply plan the building by assembling rooms in a spatial composition. Rather, I try to fulfill the planning aspect and simultaneously realize the kind of ambiguity seen within the natural environment as if I were creating a landscape or planning a forest. The uncertainty of ambiguity does not run counter to the element of planning; it can become a principle for the formation of space too.
The users of this building walk in nicely varying paths within it and discover spaces of all kinds.

enrico-cano-ishigami-01-J_6566010_prv. © Photo by Enrico Cano

enrico-cano-ishigami-02-J_6566226_prv. © Photo by Enrico Cano

enrico-cano-ishigami-03-J_6565817_prv. © Photo by Enrico Cano

enrico-cano-ishigami-05-J_6566154_prv. © Photo by Enrico Cano

enrico-cano-ishigami-08-J_6566067_prv. © Photo by Enrico Cano

enrico-cano-ishigami-J_6566204_prv. © Photo by Enrico Cano



© Video by Daniele Marucci

© Video by Daniele Marucci

© Video by Daniele Marucci

Japan Pavilion, 11th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia

Venice (Italy), 2008

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The project seeks whether the natural and the artificial environments can be treated as equivalent. It debuted at the 11th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, in 2008.
Several greenhouses were placed in the garden around a Japanese pavilion. Each greenhouse serves as architecture, but it’s also to be concerned as a new garden. The delicate columns as flowering and thin sheets of glass like the film of a bubble established the greenhouses. Those green gardens have several proportions of the space and the number of columns depended on the environment.
Plants unknown to the Venetian ecosystem were selected and placed as Japanese Ikebana. The merging of two different systems, the existing plants in Venice and the new plants in the greenhouse garden, creates a novel landscape. By creating the ambivalent relationship between the artificial environment inside the architecture and natural environment outside the architecture, we try to look towards an entirely new composite environment.












House with Plants

Tokyo (Japan), 2010-2012

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This is a private house designed for a young married couple in the suburbs of Tokyo.
I thought about creating a house that is as open and as simple as possible. The exterior walls are comprised through affixing 15 mm non-structural panels to 6 mm structural flat bars. The entirety of the walls is supported by structural components that are more delicate than the non-structural components. These walls enclose the site. Thereafter, a roof is placed above, to designate its completion…
The soil of the site remains on the interior of the building. Its appearance resembles the doma of traditional Japanese house. The soil left inside is vegetated with plants to create a small garden. The doma had formerly been referred to as niwa, albeit distinctly different in nuance from what we recognize as “niwa/garden” in the contemporary context. Moreover, this house’s garden is also different to the definition and implications of niwa today. It is a garden that behaves as a new interior living environment. An assortment of furniture is placed in the garden, forming a small landscape in coherence with the various species of greenery that have been planted. Terraces are partially created within this landscape, where the bed and sofa are placed.
A small scenery is thus conceived inside the house. On the contrary to the asphalt roads on the outside of the window, the interior environment of exposed soil seemingly embodies a more natural atmosphere. The exterior urban environment and the interior natural environment coalesce to give form to a new living environment. The flowers undergo a continuous cycle throughout the year as they bloom and wither, with their leaves ablaze with crimson in the autumn, and falling in winter. The small scenery inside the house is intimately connected to the living space, and invariably changes its appearance with each moment. In contrast to the homogenous outdoor environment of the city, a diverse array of rich interior environments are created.
The residents of this house spend most of their time restlessly engrossed in urban environments such as their workplace. They place themselves within this small environment for a limited period of time, allowing their hours to pass by slowly. Every morning one wakes up to the pleasant sunlight filtering through the leaves of interior greens; and on Sunday afternoons one can sit down on the terrace and nonchalantly enjoy the passing of time in a relaxed manner while feeling the delightful breeze amidst the small scenery. Perhaps contemporary urban housing should serve not only as mere devices for fulfilling the functional needs of living, but further as everyday villas where one can feel at ease and seek refuge from the harsh urban environment.
What we hoped to create is neither a space of eccentric forms nor a complex spatial composition of various spaces, but a “new environment”. A new outdoor environment is created inside the residence. It is an outdoor environment for living, where a new form of lifestyle is created along with a rich sense of depth.










Video Interview with Junya Ishigami

© Video by Daniele Marucci

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