Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Making Practice of the Takatori Church (Shigeru Ban)

The Making Practice of the Takatori Church (Shigeru Ban)

Toby Merrington

Does the Takatori Church designed by Shigeru Ban fall into a particular category of making practice eg: art, craft, or design?

It could be argued that architecture is one or all of these together. I aim to show that each of these categories plays a role in the Church as I believe Shigeru Ban is an Artist, a craftsman and a designer! Therefore Ban is no ordinary Architect. This is because one only has to look at his unique works to see that he cares about the utilitarianism and the role of the building as much as its aesthetic value. This stands out dramatically compared to the concrete jungle that exists around the globe today, built only generally for purpose. For example McQuaid (2003, p.4) ascertains that:

Shigeru Ban upholds the Japanese tradition of seeking aesthetic perfection with the knowledge that the new cannot be perfect.

Also Ban is famous for using unique authentic building methods and materials such as paper. He also uses low costs to create his Works. Ban is no ordinary architect.

It’s interesting to note here that one common theory Ban cannot escape is the influence on making practice which affects the level of making practice categories involved i.e. John Ruskin argued that Architecture is influenced by the current social attitudes in his essay entitled The Seven Lamps Of Architecture. In this example take the Takatori Church (Nagata, Kobe, Japan). This was built after a fire destroyed the original Church in the major earthquake that struck Kobe in 1995. No matter how inventive or original Ban may have been with the Church, here he has showed how this theory works. After the earthquake and fire struck 160 people volunteered to work and re-build the damage. This showed a determined attitude to recover what was lost, revealing a strong kind of communal feeling in the society of the time, which is very much represented in the design and use of the Church. It also gives it a strong level of authenticity in turn creating an artistic value. This shows that the social attitude affected the level of making practice involved. In other words did art, craft, and design have a stronger or weaker role compared to each other due to social feelings? I believe yes is the answer. In some cases could a particular social attitude create for example un-artistic bland architecture?

Also capital held a large factor on whether the Church fell into these categories, which happened to be very low. This I think affected the level of craft as for example high tech machinery could not be used. However no matter how high or low the initial capital Ban creates authenticity in his design thus creating an artistic signature in the building. So therefore I believe art and design played a big role in the Church, though the craftsmanship was important because Ban was experienced in the unique low costing materials used, and could pay more attention to the aesthetic design qualities.

In conclusion the making practices all influence each other, which in turn can be influenced by social perspectives. Showing that the Takatori Church is a by-product of the flow that design can lead to craft which both can lead to art.

  • McQuaid, M. (2003). Shigeru Ban. New York: Phaidon