The Global Bowl by Akihisa Hirata: The Pavilion Tokyo 2021
For architect Akihisa Hirata, architecture is part of organic interactions among organisms. Even though buildings do not grow nor metabolize, he clearly sees parallels between plants or animals that change their conditions in order to adapt to the environment and buildings that choose their shapes or collective status to do the same. For example, roofs have “ridges” and slopes so that rain/snow can run off – just like how mountains were formed by rain, snow or wind. It makes total sense for Hirata to design buildings using the rules that shape ecological/biological spheres, in which a variety of fields or colonies form complex layers. Overlapping gaps are especially important for him, as they provide spaces for organism to travel, interact and create vibrant habitats. That is the kind of architecture he aspires to design.
For the Pavilion Tokyo 2021, Hirata designed the “Global Bowl.” It is a bowl that has many “holes” as you can see, which basically makes it impossible to function as labeled. What was Hirata’s intention?
Tokyo is a super-urban metropolis and full of large, high-rising concrete buildings that do a great job shielding what’s inside from the surroundings. As they easily close/shut themselves from the environment, once inside, people and things are siloed, deprived of opportunities to interact organically with what’s outside or cross-pollinate serendipitously.
But people are resilient and always find ways to “leak” to seek something more than what they are given. That’s when holes come in to play to provide spontaneous pathways avenues. Even in Aoyama – where the “Global Bowl” is installed – which is in the middle of the central Tokyo, people somehow managed to leave spontaneous/unexpected “voids (holes)” created by some empty lots surrounded by winding streets. It’s like a “belly button” of the entire city, Hirata observes. So he placed a bowl with lots of holes there as if it was a monitoring station that would observe how people/things behave in such a unique area. As this monitoring station has multiple pathways, you can sit on it or pass through it. It’s up to you to stop and spend some time interact with it, or just walk pass by. And as you can see in pictures, people DO react differently. In an urban environment where most buildings are closes, holes can poke new potential.
The bowl was realized by the state-of-the-art Japanese engineering expertise to process wood: the slabs were precisely cut and assembled using 3D technology. With its natural yet dynamic quality, the bowl stands out as physical “voids” that can create different stories in the middle of the concrete jungle.