Workig With/In the Gap

Working With/In the Gap: Japan-ness in Architecture of Experience is a doctoral research in which architectural habit(at)s that approach space in terms of objects are recast
through the lens of Japanese architectural practice.

In contrast to the conceptualization of architecture as material and constructive, Japanese architects foreground movement and performativity. In Japan space does not figure as empty distance between objects, but is experienced and understood as a sensorially charged field that emerges from and within movement. Such ‘full emptiness’ is articulated through the Japanese concept of ma.   

At heart this dissertation is a collection of close ‘encounters with ma’. Based on reactivation of (parts of) the exhibition Ma: Spacetime in Japan, designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki in 1978, the potential of the architectural ‘practice of ma’ is studied in correspondence with a recent call from the cognitive sciences emphasizing the centrality of the moving body to the experience of architectural space.

As a record of the reactivation process, the writing and visual documentation in this dissertation summarize my experiential insights as spatial tactics: to become an attuned architect guided by tiny perceptions, to construct vital architecture motivated by un/balancing procedures, and to engage in a sited design process informed by maware play. In conclusion, biotopological craftsmanship is introduced to provide a frame for this spatialhabitus in which the focus on the architectural object, material and construction goes hand in hand with a focus on space, performativity and movement. This cross-pollinated approach to architecture works in the pursuit of a life-affirming and animistic-emphatic approach to spatial research, practice and pedagogy.