Page E1.1 . 16 May 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Environment Department
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    Two Houses from Green Architecture

    by James Wines

    The Eisaku Ushida and Kathryn Findlay studio is a husband-and-wife partnership founded in 1988 as a bicultural (Japan and Scotland) collaboration and best known for its work dealing with architecture as a reflection of regional topography and the psychological interface between habitat, technology, and nature.

    Unlike many green architects, who see their buildings as structure imposed on the environment with a certain deference to ecology in terms of energy conservation Ushida-Findlay's philosophy proposes their work as "the taming of technology, not the taming of nature."

    They see the combined physical, aesthetic, and scientific role of buildings as a harmony of nature's forces capable of offering a combination of protective retreat from the city and a visual, technical, and atmospheric absorption of the immediate urban context.

    Through formal means, theoretical propositions, and an attitude toward garden space reminiscent of the Japanese concept of "borrowed scenery," the partnership has created a vision of the house as a microcosm of the city.

    By observing that broader social fluctuations outside have an influence on their more compressed counterparts inside, the intimate spaces of residence can be seen as protective capsules, while the more public areas like the living room and kitchen can be tied more directly to the cityscape.

    Conventional urban planners tend to see buildings exclusively from the exterior and as nothing more than physical intrusions conflicting with their ambitions for uninterrupted traffic flow.

    This article is excerpted from Green Architecture by James Wines, with permission of the publisher, Taschen Books.

     

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    ArchWeek Photo

    The "Soft and Hairy House," Tsukuba City, Japan, 1994.
    Image: Ushida-Findlay Partnership

    ArchWeek Photo

    Floor plan, the Soft and Hairy House.
    Image: Ushida-Findlay Partnership

     

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