In Tokyo, between Shibuya and Harajuku, facing Fire Street, one finds an interwoven mesh of fire colored motifs covering the façade of the Keiun Building, a renovation done by Aisaka Architect’s Atelier. As if it were a basket woven out of burnt twigs and, living embers, the Keiun Building (Keiun meaning, in japanese, “clouds in a sunset sky which is regarded as a propitious sign”) is placed between “Fire Street” – where it faces the fire department – and the Yamanote railroad line.
These horizontal meshes of braided flames (aluminum plates, actually) are alternated with fenêtres en longuêur, through which the inside of the building is allowed to breathe. Behind these windows the rythm of the pillars is made apparent. They are tastefully parted from the façade walls, making the façade effectively independent, exterior, almost skin or scab-like. Despite having little more interest other than the attemptedly eye pleasing effect of the aluminum plates on the façade, this building is intended by the authors as an auspicious sign for people on the way to Yoyogi Gymnasium, an Olympic site in 2020.
It feels as though the authors attempted to reconcile two dialectically opposite positions – to be an eye catching moment in Fire Street, while being a somewhat modest and reserved gesture. As if they took a sober building and tried to make it more flashy and extravagant – but only a little. And that is, perhaps, the biggest flaw of this project; one gets the feeling that there is a lack of coherence in the intentions and gestures of the architects.
By: Daniel Anthony Fraga