Harvard’s Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Mass., opened a new exhibition Jan. 17 called “Architectural Ethnography,” that explores Tokyo-based firm Atelier Bow-Wow’s work and its unique perspective on the relationship between human interaction with architecture.
Throughout the exhibition, partners Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and Momoyo Kajima’s detailed plans are displayed to showcase how the firm analyzes architecture and its environment from a behaviorlogical point of view. Instead of just assessing the physical elements in a project, the firm looks into how people will behave in the new structure. Similar to their book, Graphic Anatomy (Toto Publishing, 2007), these visual representations show their emphasis on details and how these graphics investigate people’s living conditions.
One of their featured projects, “Explanatory Notes - Graphic Anatomy 2,” was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's sketches featuring dissections of the human body. The firm translated da Vinci’s work into illustrations of detailed cross sections of buildings that not only have aesthetic appeal, but also consider the relation of the structure to people, furniture, urban space, fixtures, and the natural environment.
Other works displayed include, their 1998 project “Made in Tokyo,” which contextualizes buildings within their surrounding urban environments. In their research process, Tsukamoto and Kajima chose structures that stood out to them personally and compiled a list of commonalities between each.
The two partners established their firm in 1992 and have taught at multiple universities including Harvard’s GSD, Rice University, and the University of California, Los Angeles. With over 10 publications and 50 previous exhibitions all over the world, the firm continues to develop their concept of architectural ethnography.
Also responsible for curating the exhibition, Tsukamoto and Kajima will give a talk on Feb. 17 on their drawing methods. The exhibition will take place at the Gund Hall Gallery on Harvard University’s campus until March 5.