Buildings That Liberate Us.

April 11th, 2014, 4am

In his recent interview (“AERA,” March 17), Toyo Ito, a 2013 Pritzker Prize winner, states that many Japanese architects are being satisfied with just making beautiful buildings because they can please bureaucrats easily. For beautiful buildings are easy to manage and maintain. All they care is “safety.” But what interests Ito most is an architecture that liberates us.

Ito’s statement also reminds me of Louis Kahn. Nathaniel Kahn, Louis’ illegitimate son, made a fantastic documentary film called “My Architect” (2003), dedicated to his estranged father. Nathaniel revisits his father’s major buildings and talks with those who utilize them as well as who remember the architect. The most memorable moment is when he visits the house of the Parliament of Bangladesh. With a grand spatiality, surrounding water, and natural light, the building looks like a floating castle or spaceship.

Shamsul Wares, a Bangladesh architect, who guides and explains Nathaniel the significance of the building, asks how long this segment will be. The filmmaker becomes apologetic, confessing that it will be about 10 minutes at most. Wares flips. “You can’t treat this building like that!” He starts scolding and then consoles Louis Kahn’s son. Wares even says that Louis “gave us democracy.”

David Wade, Ragini, Sanna and Stephen said thanks.

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Shu Kuge

Woodcut printmaker

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