The work of vitalism : Murano Togo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.
Stanford Anderson and Mark Jarzombek.
MetadataShow full item record
Murano Togo (1891-1984) was a Japanese architect who based his practice in the city of Osaka. Throughout his long career, Murano won numerous awards, most notably the Order of Culture in 1967 presented by the Royal family. Despite his cultural contribution, his work was never considered within the Japanese architectural mainstream, in which technology and structure were embraced as design languages. Mainstream architects, including the modernist Tange Kenzo (1913-2005), worked mostly on public funded projects. Murano's buildings, often being ornate and commercially used, did not accord with this predominant current. Thus, he has been characterized as a "peripheral" figure or "late-expressionist" by various historians. While existing scholarship largely focuses on the stylistic and formal aspect of Murano's architecture, this thesis offers a different perspective to Murano's work. Reinterpretation of Murano's architecture is needed and this research posits "bio-anthropocentricism" as a new approach to examine his work. This thesis argues that this particular intellectual tendency, which derived from Vitalism, informed his architectural praxis that began in the late 1910s. Bio-anthropocentrism is the discourse that conceives a society as a constantly transforming site, and positions the human subject as a central entity, represented through biological descriptions, including "Life (seime)," corporeal matters and human bodies in particular. Deeming Vitalism as an epistemological current evident in various forms of art at the dawn of the twentieth century in Japan, this thesis situates Murano's work - both his writings and buildings - within this current. This research further demonstrates how Murano's bio-anthropocentricism gained a particular anthropomorphic aesthetic. By this, Murano aimed to create architectural surfaces that appear as if they were human skin (body), described by Murano as, "tactility." Consisting of curves and shades (colors), this anthropomorphic aesthetic was conceived by Murano to prolong "Life" of his architecture under the force of capitalism because in his mind the human subject cannot be consumed. It turned architecture into an "unquantifiable" object that thus cannot be commodified. This thesis argues that, amidst the commercially oriented culture of Osaka, Murano's growing concern gave him this particular architectural language. Through this exploration, I draw a different cultural and intellectual implication from Murano's works that ultimately recasts the history of the Japanese Modern Architecture.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Architecture, 2010.Includes bibliographical references (p. 107-111).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Architecture.; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture
Massachusetts Institute of Technology