This study examines the traditional Sukiya architecture of Japan. The approaches used by Sukiya designers were successful in creating a strong and dynamic experience for the senses and emotions. These aspects are typically under-utilised in contemporary architecture.
The Sukiya style has had an important influence on architects ranging from the early modernists like Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, Bruno Taut and Frank Lloyd Wright, through to the leading contemporary Japanese architects like Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito and Fumhiko Maki. Even with the cultural differences and the centuries that have passed since it reached its pinnacle, Sukiya buildings are widely admired. There is a certain identifiable Japanese 'feel' that can be sensed in the traditional residences and teahouses, as well as in some of the new buildings created by Japan's current generation of designers.
Although Sukiya architecture belongs to the past, this study shows that some contemporary Japanese architects are reinterpreting and sustaining the essence of this style. The results of the study show that they have successfully brought the principles behind Sukiya into contemporary contexts, thereby illustrating its relevance for architects throughout the world.
To the best of my knowledge, there is no text that sets out to fully analyse Sukiya architecture with the intention of critical reinterpretation into the contemporary setting. Recent essays and books by architects who advocate the abstraction of traditional ideas usually mention some aspects only briefly, with many good ideas overlooked. This study attempts a more complete analysis by combining the information from these authors, put in perspective by writings on phenomenological and sensual aspects of architecture.