The third Landscape 

The design approach of Junya Ishigamis architecture is strongly impacted by nature. Therefor the exhibition „The third Landscape“ at the Foundation Cartier creates a new landscape itself. Interview with the curator Isabelle Gaudefroy.

Topos: What does the title „Freeing Architecture“ imply?

Isabelle Gaudefroy: Junya Ishigami chose the title as he wants his architecture to be free: free from format, scale and function, free from preconceived ideas. And this approach is what the exhibition is about. It functions as a landmark for Ishigami because it is the first time that he shows his work in progress: All the exhibits are about his current projects.

T: So Ishigami was strongly involved in the curation process…

I.G.: He is the curator of his own show. He designed the whole exhibition and chose which projects to talk about.

T: How do nature and scale influence Ishigamis designs?

I.G.: Ishigami is an architect – but he is also an artist and a poet: For every building he fully reflects his own way of creating architecture. His approach towards architecture also includes that he understands landscape as a part of his projects.

Landscape actually is the starting point for his inspiration. Ishigami considers whenever an architect constructs a building, man is interfering with nature and therefore creating architecture means creating landscape. He transforms nature into a „third landscape“ that includes architecture and its surroundings. One example is the the project „Commercial“ along a river in China: Junya Ishigami set up a lake in order to create a long promenade which is surrounded by water.

In the same area Ishigami designed the project „Chapel“ which is a very thin and very high building. It is open to the sky and one enters it through a very narrow path. So it gives the visitor a sense of elevation towards the sky. He set it up in a small valley in the mountain, so the church gives the impression to rise from the bottom of the valley.

In the project „Art Bio Farm“ Ishigami replanted trees which were supposed to be chopped off. Instead he designed a new park. So most of his projects are a reference to an element of nature, weather, climate.

T: How does the visitor experience the link between architecture and nature in the exhibition?

I.G.: The exhibition itself is a new landscape. There is a narrative between the space of Jean Nouvels building and Ishigamis work: When you enter the main hall you can embrace the whole space as Ishigami chose not to set up any walls. You can overlook the whole room but also all projects of the exhibition.

The setup of the models uses the scale of the projects to let visitors embrace the space: The first model at the entrance is a low building: the project of a park in Holland. The next project is the „Commercial“ which is 90 cm high until the end of the room where Ishigami placed the model of his hight and narrow chapel.

In a smaller room visitors can see projects that are linked with the world of childhood. Here we can see the projects that Junya Ishigami conceived on the basis of collages, of a simple freehand drawing, with the skill and freedom that a child would use to express himself visually.

T: The exhibition shows models, plans, videos. How does Ishigami use those media in his own design process?

I.G.: The model is really his tool for working in his studio. The ones we will show have been designed for the exhibition only. So they have not been part of a conceptional process, therefore you can consider them as sculptures.

All the models are fabricated either internally in the studio, or by a model maker who is used to work with Junya Ishigami. The models are often made with simple material such as paper and aluminium – but very precisely.

Each model shows one important fact about each project. For example: The building in Holland is fully transparent without any columns because the curved glass also functions as the structural element, so the model is also done in glass.

T: What differs Ishigami from other Japanese architects?

I.G.:  
Junya Ishigami is a poet, a thinker and an artist as much as he is an architect. His work draws on ideas, inspirations and images from the natural world to create an architecture that is open to all possibilities while aiming toward the user’s best experience and comfort.

The exhibition is held from 28 March to 10 June 2018 at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.