As large cities around the world become increasingly westernized, Tokyo stands apart. Its culture is deeply rooted, drawing on centuries of rich history, yet constantly growing. Absorbing influences while producing cultural outcomes that remain uniquely Japanese.
By contrast, Vancouver is a very young city; it wasn’t until after the World Exposition in 1986 that it began to evolve from a sleepy provincial city into a growing urban centre.
On the surface, Tokyo and Vancouver may seem an unlikely pairing. However, the way a city is seen or approached, by whom and from what vantage point, invests it with new ideas, and those ideas contribute to an aesthetic and cultural richness.
As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Vancouver is has the potential to absorb the world’s best cultural influences while developing its own unique aesthetic qualities.
Like Vancouver, diversity and artistry have greatly influenced Westbank. Japanese culture, in particular, has long been a source of inspiration. The upcoming exhibition — Japan Unlayered — will introduce elements of Japanese culture that are inspiring current works and leading the practice in new and exciting directions.
For myself however, the attractiveness of Tokyo has less to do with its livability and much more to do with the depth of its culture. One of the many things I like about Tokyo is that it is a place with great depth that reveals itself slowly over time, and must be respected in order to be fully understood. The more time you spend there, the more you are challenged.
— Ian Gillespie
Curated by master Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, Westbank and Peterson, Japan Unlayered exhibition will present Japanese traditions alongside contemporary design to illustrate that the defining principles of Japanese design remain the same despite the evolution of technology. The exhibition also offers a glimpse into what may be one of the most artistic and resolved residential buildings ever designed.
Japan Unlayered features Japanese design from a wide range of fields represented by MUJI, BEAMS Japan, Chef Nozaki of Waketokuyama, Sakurai Tea Experience, ACURA, and more —within the design philosophy of layering and its manifestation in architecture.
My motivation is always to engage in a new kind of project in a new setting. I want to deepen my understanding of different cultures, and I want to offer some inspiration through my design.
— Kengo Kuma
Ideas from Tokyo will soon find themselves on view in Vancouver. If the city is as one wishes to see it, this sort of cross-pollination is precisely how Vancouver, a young metropolis, should embrace the world — with an eye toward new heights of excellence — as it continues to expand its tall buildings.