Books: Atelier Bow-Wow - Behaviorology Print
Written by Camille Chami   
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 07:32

Atelier Bow-Wow Book: BehaviorologyThe book covers the majority of the work of Tokyo-based architectural firm of Atelier Bow-Wow. Founded by Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kaijima, Atelier Bow-Wow has mostly concentrated its activity around small houses, usually built within dense urban surroundings. With a fresh vision that is well detailed in the book, Atelier Bow-Wow’s have defied the conventional guidelines and created original, volumetrically optimized spaces that respond to the needs of its users despite their constrained dimensions.

While large portions of the book are dedicated the firm’s architecture work, the architects’ work on furniture as well as their research projects are well detailed. Interesting essays by different writers help the reader to learn more about the principles that guide the firm’s design. The book’s introduction written by Kaijima and Tsukamoto themselves sheds the light on the concepts that glue all their work together. They insist on the fact that their projects had a tendency to “contaminate, inform, and mutually develop one another”. While striving to produce livable, viable, and enjoyable spaces, they developed a recurrent theme based on “Behavior”.



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According to Kaijima and Tsukamoto, the study of Behavior or “Behaviorology” can help define the architectural expression through the understanding of the complex relation between the urban space, the built environment and their inhabitants. Going beyond the modernist concept of form based on functionality, behaviorology will guide the form to be based nor only on the observation of individuals and their existing surroundings, but the behavior of the natural elements and the behavior of the building as well. The observation and understanding of common and individual human behavior, the inherent properties of natural elements such as light, heat, water and wind, and a close analysis of the building’s articulation should lead to a strengthened localized architectural language.

Ideas can emerge from the careful observation of the city. Far from staying enclosed in their studio, Atelier Bow-Wow observes and learns from the urban surroundings. The cityscape, its human dimension, built environment, and dynamism serve as inspiration. Their gaze on the city sets aside the established landmarks and monuments, and concentrate on the informal and accidental, the little elements that make a city charming, that help the inhabitant identify with the city.

There is also the relentless effort to produce an efficient and delightful space. Space restrictions become design opportunities. Built along narrow roads, the houses embrace the streetscape order, becoming in integral part of the limited urban space. Setbacks from neighbouring houses, sometimes as small as 30”, get exploited as light wells, bringing precious daylight inside the house. With small footprints, the houses are usually organized vertically, along 2 or 3 floors. Their interior space is unified and dynamic, No need avoids the creation of dedicated enclosed rooms, for living, dinning, etc. Instead, there would be ‘primary spaces’ that include several functions. Stairs and storage spaces are merged into these spaces. Vertical circulation gets actually set on the periphery creating an inter-relation between these spaces, and making the whole house even more cohesive. Every cubic inch of space gets utilized, and every opportunity to bring in daylight gets exploited.

To Atelier Bow-Wow, behaviorology and its ramifications have provided a mean “to organically integrate the built environment across disparate scales: from furniture to architecture, to structures of civil engineering, to the landscape and urban planning.” An ecosystem, that helps in producing a unique spatial experience. Far from the stereotypical styles and forms of what is established, their approach is fresh and original, making this book quite enjoyable to read.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 26 May 2011 10:33