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Global Architecture Platform

Fumihiko Maki
TEPIA building
Tokyo, 1989

Maki’s interest in details and sophistication are well known, and TEPIA could be seen as the ultimate example of this attitude.

Details are extremely important for us. Details for preventing rain leakage, minimising deterioration over time, and preventing the soiling of the building: we always pay keen attention to such details to secure the performance of buildings. Conversely, details only for expressions are avoided whenever possible. We minimise the details from an aesthetical standpoint, including expressions for thin or sharp appearances. What made us think this way were the details of TEPIA by Fumihiko Maki, completed in Tokyo in 1989. Maki’s interest in details and sophistication are well known, and TEPIA could be seen as the ultimate example of this. In particular, an unimaginable energy must have been used to make the open joints for every aluminium panel. In order to persistently make the joints “hollow”, instead of filling them with sealant, he used thick 5mm aluminium panels. To minimise the joint size (10mm), a foundation made of extruded materials was placed behind the aluminium panels. 2.5mm gaps were left between the foundation and the panels, and connected by gaskets. Similar details were also developed for the heavy stone material. How an object encounters other objects, which is the essence of details, can be felt from looking at any part of the building, along with a sense of tension. The thickness, thinness, heaviness and lightness of the object viewed are crystallised into an expression of a substantive feature of the building materials themselves, resulting in the building being equipped with preciseness, similar to an artefact. After experiencing this architecture, every detail seemed primitive. One might even feel like half giving-up, since creating an expression better than that seems impossible. For this reason, we intentionally avoided standing on an equal footing. Rather, we decided to work as far as possible with a passive attitude, which could be said to be naïve. What kind of performance of the building is the detail going to fulfill? When a clear answer to the question is not obtained and the detail is an expression, the detail is going to be eliminated.
19.Oct.2016 250 views 5 shares
Manabu Chiba

Manabu Chiba (Tokyo, 1960) has been educated at the University of Tokyo (B.Arch and M.Arch). Chiba worked in the architecture offices NIHON SEKKEI and Factor N, and in the campus planning office of the University of Tokyo. He worked as an assistant of Prof. Tadao Ando. Between 2001 and 2013, he was an Associate Professor at the University of Tokyo, and has been Guest Professor at the ETH Zürich from 2009 to 2010. Since 2013, Manabu Chiba is Professor at the Department of Architecture, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo.