• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Virtual space and traditional Japanese architectural philosophies


Hie guys! I wrote this article and want to know what you make of it.. its for my thesis proposal and would love some tips .. its what i see as an interesting analogy between Virtuality, the future and traditional Japanese Architecture


The Perception of the Surface as basic to Space-making
An analogy between traditional Japanese architecture and contemporary trends


Modernism was deeply rooted in a machine-age logic of the twentieth century. There was no room for retrospection. The obsession with function saw form and order as the primordial makers of space, the expressions of which in built form gave rise to much of the glass and concrete monoculture of today. The concrete jungles of our cities or the glass and steel esthetic of the west have the inbuilt inheritance of this ‘form follows function’ dogma.

Modernism obviously forgot the basic tenants of Japanese architecture that of Ma and Oku. Ma in the subjective realm defines the continuum of external reality or even an internal mood. Oku thinks of space as that which is the emptiness, an interface between the heavens and the earth. “A realization came into being that architectural shape was useless; that the prime requisite was for a system that could adapt to any kind of change rather than constant or changing functions.” Again traditional Japanese Architecture considered the relationships between color textures, materials and surface treatments to be of unfailing importance. To quote Henri Sterlin, “When western architecture seeks to recuperate the tactile values which its puritanical phase has put into hibernation, there is no doubt for example, that the differentiation of surfaces by the texture of the materials felt by foot which is typical of Japanese architecture, will provide new retrospective models.

Contemporary architecture has indeed come along way from the Early Modernism of the 1920s. Today buildings are built with not only increasing technological skill but with it a new kind of sensitivity. This sensitivity is not only about the visual perception of space but is also related to its haptic, tactile, and olfactory perceptions.

Again the making of the physical space is also challenged in a fundamental way by the advent of the virtual space. An ever increasing variety of activities – learning, entertainment, business etc are happening and will happen in this virtual space, leaving many questions on the nature of the physical space, its qualities and its basic spirit. Can Ma- the fluid space-time continuity of the physical and the virtual, or Oku- the emptiness of the space contained provide clues for an altogether different quality of enclosed space?

Aims and Objectives

The aim of the thesis is to study the packaging of architectural space. It is to say that surfaces and their perception form a very basic role in the nature and the spirit of space making. The negation of ‘function’ and with it ‘form’ as the generators of architectural space is of particular significance.

With technology constantly changing the ways in which space is used, ‘function’ has lost meaning. The need is to create a space of quality that holds through many changing functions.


The significant aspects of traditional Japanese space making will be studied with emphasis on the nature of the surfaces and their perception as the containers of space. The study will move on to examples in contemporary architecture where the rendering of the enclosure has taken precedence to its ‘function’ as in the buildings of Herzog & deMeuron and Jean Nouvel, or where many disparate activities have been untied using the surface as an element of space making as in the Eura-Lille Project of Rem Koolhaas. The skin here wraps up many complex programs to create Europes largest building. Lastly the fluid spaces of the Mobius House of Ben Van Berkel will be studied where wall floor and roof are all amalgamated into one fluid space.

Scope and Limitations

The thesis does not wish to investigate the failings of modernism, nor does it give an account of the history of traditional Japanese architecture. It will see how space making has changed to accommodate a myriad of different functions, often in a constant flux and also the implications of virtual space making on the physical space.


The Roots of Japanese Architecture – Yukio Futagawa and Teiji Itoh, Harper and Row Publishers, N.Y., London 1965
Traditon And Its infuences In Japanese Architecture, Sonal Sancheti, School of Architecture, Under Graduate, Thesis, Jan 1997.


suncle, could you explain what you mean? i couldn't make head or tail of your statements above. are you an amature? have you considered joining an architecture course? have you heard of colleges? you could go there and they can teach you how to think.
okay, first of all... he did say this was a thesis proposal; those are usually VERY vague statements about an idea/something you need to explore further to fully understand.

secondly, "amature" is correctly spelled "amateur", and no, apparently HE is not, as he has evidently read something about modernism and Japanese architecture.

thirdly, i just have to say that i DO HOPE that "jikom" is NOT an architect --- architecture schools do NOT "..teach you how to think." that would be the last thing on earth we wanted schools to do.

and the last thing i wanted to say was that the proposal needed to be made a little more "meaty"; i'm not quite sure what you're setting out to prove or disprove, shankles... having done a thesis, i'm just warning you that you need something very specific you prove or demonstrate at the end of the thesis - otherwise (if this is a B.Arch. thesis), you're going to be hard pressed to come up with visual/graphic/hard evidence of your solution.

good luck!!! you should post the next draft too... ignore the ignorant.