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Time In Japanese Architecture

Part 1 Dissertation 2002
Alexander Veal
Cardiff University Cardiff UK
Initial thoughts about this project began during my year in practice. The study begins with a review of key literary sources that address the subject of time in architecture and, in particular, in Japanese architecture. Drawing on themes discussed in the literature review and other sources, the specific relevance of time to Japan is examined. Discrete facors are identified for the persistence of this theme in the country's culture and hence in the formulation and experience of Japanese architecture.

The main part of the study isdivided into two sections. In the first, ways in which time is expressed in traditional architecture are investigated and the findings illustrated with a wide-variety of case-study examples. In the second section the work of Tadao Ando is discussed. With reference to two detailed case-studies, concepts of time, as they manifest themselves in his spiritual buildings, are analysed. In this way the role of traditional architecture as a precedent in Ando's work is investigated.

To summarised: the purpose of this study is to trace the role of time in Japanese architecture from its origins in traditional building forms to its present-day interpretation in the work of Tadao Ando. Consequently the importance of time to all architecture or 'place-making' might be made more evident.

Many of the concepts discussed in this dissertation are not measureable. Empirical data is therefore neither available or appropriate. Howver the work of others, as discussed in the literature review, forms a foundation and reference point for many of the arguments that are developed.

Nevertheless time in architecture cannot be discussed purposefully without the benefit of personal experience. Time in architecture implies movement though space, both personally and by the natural forces that surround and inhabit a building. The discussion of many of the buildings is therefore based on personal experience and illustrated with photographs taken by the author during a study visit to Japan.

Alexander Veal


Alex Veal has been an outstanding student throughout his time at the Welsh School of Architecture. His dissertation, tutored by Richard Weston, received the highest mark in the year of 2001-2002. His research was assisted by the award of the T Alwyn Lloyd Memorial Travelling Scholarship which he received for his excellent work in the first degree. He used this to travel to Japan to undertake first-hand studies of the key buildings and sites. This has contributed significantly to the quality of the study. He is, in addition, a talented designer and was one of nine students awarded a Distinction this year.

2002
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