Kyoto/ City as the Context

Kyoto/ City as the Context
Kyoto- Cover of The Kyoto Origins of Non-Conceptual Form

Kyoto is perceived as a conservation- oriented city with its prestigious cultural heritage from the ancient capital of imperial Japan. Yet there are also comments that the city is full of expression of nostalgia, which is almost inevitable. The city is so strongly cast by the sense of history and time that any attempt to  construct in this city a building for the sake of the architecture itself is a reckless and overly ambitious act. Any such effort will very soon be frustrated by that ancient rhythm of the city that has long been programmed into the gene of Kyoto.

In response to this notion, Shin Takamatsu, one Japanese architect practicing in Kyoto, regarded Kyoto as one of the origins as non-conceptual form. In this case, the architecture is no longer ” architecture for architecture and by architecture”. Instead of appearing as a new architectural language or idiom, architecture in Kyoto should be rooted in the context of Kyoto. The phrase ” The city is context itself” suits no better other cities than Kyoto as the dimensions and sense of time that pervade the city is  scaled to human existence. In Shin Takamatsu’s point of view, the expanse of time in the city casts into history all things of human scale and all petty inscriptions. The city’s old urban fabric overlaps comfortably with people’s visual and mental spectrum.  As opposed to the conventional urban approach to pursue “the new architecture”, Shin Takamatsu offers a unique insight into  Kyoto that all intentions to create a building in this city are intended to be lost.



SHIN, Takamatsu. (1989) The Kyoto Origins of Non-conceptual form.[Online] AA Files (17). p. 3-5. Available from: [Accessed: 8th December 2014]


2 Comments on “Kyoto/ City as the Context

  1. Your blog narrates the nature of Kyoto clearly. The quotation of Shin Takamatsu’s view of architecture in Kyoto is strong enough to reveal the idea that the context of Kyoto is supreme to any single individual architecture in this city. Because of the rooted historical heritage, both material and spiritual, Kyoto is identified as a conservation-oriented city. Kyoto can be considered as an unswerving city when compared to phenomenon that historical cities betray their nature and let all of the new and disharmonious elements tear their context up.

  2. Do you have photos or plans of newer buildings built in Kyoto? All cities require new buildings and the replacement of obsolete buildings. It would be interesting to see documentation on new buildings and a plan of the city showing where they are. Preservation is easy when there isn’t a demand for new buildings, but the tension between growth/development and a desire for preservation will highlight strategies for large scale “preservation” and their relative effectiveness.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.