USC Asia Architecture & Urbanism Study Abroad Program

Temporal Transformation

Architecture in Tokyo has more layers than initially meets the eye. They transform into deeply layered vertical landscape of light, hue, and structure throughout various times of day, which reflect the transformation that the community goes through as the day changes. Mornings are governed by the motion of a sea of white collared shirts, rushing through the metro station on their way to who knows where. At this time, the buildings are homogenous in mood and coloring, as they are preparing to fill up with the morning crowd. By the afternoon the city shifts as the second wave of people rush though, children on their way home from school, people leaving their places of work, to cafes or shopping centers, making a paced transition to their home, while the buildings start to light up and fill up with people that are done with their daily obligations and are starting to leisurely enjoy themselves. By night fall the city is in chaos with the influx of people that are on their way to be social, whether it is at the bars, clubs, restaurants or just to be seen in the crossings, the entire city comes to life with motion; at this point the buildings are illuminated with every color imaginable, most displaying billboards or other advertisements trying to catch the eye of every passerby. Throughout the day the people morph from monochromatic worker bees to luminescent social creatures, and the buildings follow suit.

Everyday, as if by clockwork, this transformation happens. In a city where refinement is a guiding factor in social and psychological development, it is hard to not notice the highly structured transformation as it unfolds throughout ones explorations.  In “Walking in the city”, De Certeau talks about the ability for places to become habitable by the local authority governing the social uses of spaces. This is apparent in the shifting of life in these buildings due to the transformation of the local authority throughout the day. The facades of these buildings catalyze this transformation through the shifts it goes through as the day passes and the people go about their daily lives.

The façade becomes more than the division of interior and exterior spaces by becoming a portal to the split personalities of the city throughout time. The development of this “façade” appropriation happens at the city scale, through the divisions of neighborhoods, to the street scale, at the division of commercial streets, to the building scale, at the physical boundaries. Each space has it’s own identity through the market that it subsists of as well as the social standards that revolve around it throughout time. It is the shift in users throughout the day that allows for the temporal evolution brought on by users as they transform throughout the day.

In conclusion, the evolution of Tokyo happens at the scale of the person as they evolve throughout the day. As De Certeau says, the local authority governs the habitability of spaces and this is true in Tokyo due to the reuse of space throughout the day allowing for the transformation of work to leisure and play to happen at the efficient and rapid pace that it does.


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AAU FALL 2013:

University of Southern California
School of Architecture
Asia Architecture and Urbanism
Study Abroad Program

Andrew Liang
Bu Bing
Steven Chen
Yo-Ichiro Hakomori
Andrew Liang
Yuyang Liu
Neville Mars
Academic Contributors:
Thomas Chow, SURV
Bert de Muynck, Movingcities.org
Manying Hu, SZGDADRI, ITDP, Guangzhou
Clare Jacobson, Design Writer, Editor, Curator
Laurence Liauw, SPADA, Hong Kong
Mary Ann O'Donnell, Shenzhen Noted, Fat Bird, Shenzhen
Paul Tang, Verse, Shanghai
Li Xiangning, Tongji University, Shanghai
Daniel Aguilar
Hong Au
Michael den Hartog
Caroline Duncan
Nefer Fernandez
Christian Gomez
Isabelle Hong
Jin Hong Kim
Ashley Louie
Javier Meier
Paula Narvaez
Ashlyn Okimoto
Tamar Partamian
Samuel Rampy
Luis Villanueva
Krista Won
Tiffany Wu

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