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Architectural Projects by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa at The Canadian Centre for Architecture
House on Charlotte Road, London, 2008 Stephen Taylor, architect. Simon Lewis, photographer © Simon Lewis

MONTREAL.- This exhibition features recent architectural projects by Stephen Taylor in London and Ryue Nishizawa in Tokyo that propose new approaches to living in urban environments. Some Ideas on Living in London and Tokyo by Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa marks the first North American presentation of residential projects by Taylor and Nishizawa and reveals their distinctive solutions to the challenges of building homes in existing dense urban fabrics. The exhibition is organised by CCA Curator for Contemporary Architecture Giovanna Borasi in active collaboration with the architects.

London and Tokyo provide particularly relevant ground for case studies not only due to the scale and complexity of their respective built environments, but especially for the way in which their increasing densities call for a redefinition of urban living. While facing similar issues related to growth, the two cities occupy cultural contexts in which themes of proximity, privacy, community, and public space take on different meanings and require distinct solutions. Stephen Taylor and Ryue Nishizawa have developed new ideas for living borne of their respective cultures. Their innovative residential designs challenge conventional norms and offer approaches that simultaneously shape the life of the resident and the face of the city.

The exhibition is conceived in collaboration with Nishizawa and Taylor, who designed their components of the installation with original display furniture and new large-scale models. The architects’ projects are each presented in three galleries, adjacent and open to one another in order to establish relationships among their respective works and between the two. On view are original drawings, large-scale renderings, models, books, and prints by established photographers. Nishizawa’s built projects were captured by Takashi Homma, Hisao Suzuki, and Ken'ichi Suzuki, and Taylor’s work by Simon Lewis, David Grandorge and Ioana Marinescu.

Stephen Taylor has developed his ideas for residential building on a range of scales, from individual houses integrated into inner city streetscapes to multi-units and a master plan for a district of London that mixes new buildings with existing structures. By establishing subtle relationships to the surrounding urban texture, his buildings are grounded on the street with simple but distinct façades separating public and private space. The exhibition presents a series of houses designed in London’s East End, as well as a new urban project mixing housing typologies near a redeveloped train station in Rainham Village, London.

Taylor’s work is characterised by the idea that residential projects shape, in his words, “the body of our city.” His individual homes and larger projects aim to define a place, realising their role as part of the public realm in shaping streets and communities. London’s increasing residential densities and political emphasis on “intensification” lead to Taylor’s interest in using urban surroundings to redefine proximity and privacy in his organisation of interior spaces.

The exhibition presents Taylor’s work through wall-mounted photographs, drawings, and posters, as well as models and objects on three large tables custom-designed by the architect for the CCA. Placed one per gallery, the specific design and orientation of the tables as well as the juxtaposition of models upon them establish a dialogue that reflects the interrelationship of issues in Taylor’s projects on a range of scales. His spatial arrangements of interior rooms influence the way he conceives external relationships between house and street. In his larger urban projects, Taylor builds neighbourhoods of mixed residences through clearly articulated volumes with subtle passages between them.

Ryue Nishizawa’s projects express his belief that the house should establish a close relationship between interior and exterior space, linking the two environments and creating an atmosphere within the house by bringing the city inside. Rather than providing a shelter from the city, the house is grounded within it, simultaneously absorbing and shaping the character of its surroundings. The complexity and density of the city informs the interior organisation of the house while its resident becomes a visible part of the city. Through this mutual exchange, Nishizawa contributes to the vitality of the streetscape and offers new ideas on how space inside the house is simultaneously space inside a neighbourhood.

Nishizawa describes his interest in creating buildings with “a new sense of values” to reflect and capture the character of the current digital age. The need to develop architectural models appropriate for a new, contemporary way of living within the city is captured in his houses that challenge traditional ideas of privacy and the organisation of space. The exhibition presents three of Nishizawa’s Tokyo houses, dedicating one gallery each to the Moriyama House, House A, and the unbuilt Garden and House.

Nishizawa approaches his work on two fundamental levels – how the building is to be used within, and what type of exterior environment the building will create. Moriyama House resembles in many ways a village, forming a cluster of independent rooms connected by terraces and exterior courtyards open to the street. Similarly, the floor plan for House A is not defined by a cohesive exterior volume but by the sequential arrangement of differently scaled rooms. The close connection between resident and neighbourhood, and the radical challenge to traditional notions of privacy is at the core of Nishizawa’s new ideas for contemporary urban life.

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