Temporal Architecture: Poetic Dwelling in Japanese buildings

Michael Lazarin


Heidegger’s thinking about poetic dwelling and Derrida’s impressions of Freudian estrangement are employed to provide a constitutional analysis of the experience of Japanese architecture, in particular, the Japanese vestibule (genkan). This analysis is supplemented by writings by Japanese architects and poets. The principal elements of Japanese architecture are: (1) ma, and (2) en. Ma is usually translated as ‘interval’ because, like the English word, it applies to both space and time.  However, in Japanese thinking, it is not so much an either/or, but rather a both/and. In other words, Japanese architecture emphasises the temporal aspect of dwelling in a way that Western architectural thinking usually does not. En means ‘joint, edge, the in-between’ as an ambiguous, often asymmetrical spanning of interior and exterior, rather than a demarcation of these regions. Both elements are aimed at producing an experience of temporality and transiency.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7480/footprint.2.2.689

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