The Room and the Force of Gravity: Japanese Sense of Space in the Evolution of Human Habitat

By Cristiano Lippa.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Human biological characteristics are the product of a model of life developed to live, explore and move on a horizontal environment as a consequence of gravity. The pervading presence of this force have modelled our habitat and the status quo we live in. A room is a tool used to delimit actual and imaginative space. The tectonic archetypical model of a room is a consequence of gravity. In a frame structure, the design of joints is an example on how gravity laws and their effects have formed aesthetics and human constructed environment.
The Japanese architectural experience has explored gravity consequences elaborating a horizontal landscape. The Katsura Villa is a horizontal sequence of rooms, each one preserving the original tectonic meaning, linked together to create a continuous environment.

Japanese metropolis of the XXI century has lost its horizontality, configuring itself as a sequence of indoor and outdoor rooms, creating endless tridimensional configurations. Physical and perceptual movements are possible in every directions making the urban experience an implicit tendency to a condition of absence of gravity. The image of flowing particles, suggested by Kengo Kuma, could be found in this passage from a primordial state of gravity into a universe oriented experience. The Japanese Kibo module of the International Space Station, the biggest living unit in space, is a room where no horizon could be found and the spacial experience can finally be made from human subjective point of view. Moreover the condition of absence of gravity creates a real tridimensional sequence linking all the modules of the Station. The tectonic and construction elements in the architecture of a room as we have known before, are lost forever.

Keywords: Archetypical Room, Spacial Unit, Tectonics, Force of Gravity, Human Habitat

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp.105-116. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 6.631MB).

Dr Cristiano Lippa

PhD Candidate, Kengo Kuma Laboratory, Department of Architecture, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

Cristiano Lippa is an architect researching on issues concerning the perception of architectural and urban space in relation with tectonic structures. He has graduated at the University of Roma Tre in 2004 with a thesis called “Archaeological Underground Museum in Piazza di Porta Maggiore in Rome”, winning project of the XV International Symposium of Urban Culture at the University of Camerino in Italy. He has worked in architectural competitions and projects, earning recognitions and prices. He has collaborated in several research programs at the Department of Architecture of University La Sapienza of Rome where he has graduated PhD in 2008 with a dissertation called “Oku and the Japanese Sense of Space”. From 2009 he is a PhD candidate in Kengo Kuma Laboratory of University of Tokyo and he is collaborating at Kengo Kuma & Associates Office in Tokyo.