Conversation with Momoyo Kaijima

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Atrium Radio: This was Momoyo Kaijima from Atelier Bow-Wow speaking. She is also teaching at the ETH Zurich, where she runs the faculty Architecture Behaviorology. Momoyo maybe you can tell us a little bit more about Atrium Behaviorology. What is it describing?

Momoyo Kaijima: It is about three topics: 1) people behavior, 2) is climate behavior like heat, wind and water and 3) is architecture itself. It is a genealogy of architecture. We can observe on these three levels in Architecture Behaviorology analysis. In ETH we have a six year long programme. Each year we select one theme. Last year I selected the window, one semester through a site in Japan, another semester through a site in Switzerland. So we can compare two cultures through Architecture Behaviorology. Japanese windows are often sliding doors. Japanese traditional building has column beam structure system. That’s why the window could be more flexible element which allows to react to people’s behavior or seasonal issues. In Switzerland the window is a very expensive material, because glass is very expensive material and it is a very cold country compared to Japanese’ mild climate. So windows in traditional Swiss houses should be more limited in size. Japanese building are basically open to the mild climate, whereas in Switzerland it‘s a hole. This year we focus on timber. Japan has a lot of timber resources. Unfortunately the local timber industry is not in a good condition, because a lot of it is exported. We would like to propose new effects to engage with local timber culture.

Atrium Radio: Wow, that sounds really interesting. Is this related to the atrium as a spatial configuration or topic?

Momoyo Kaijima: Yes, during my last visit in summer, I visited HafenCity university for the first time. I found that the atrium is very empty, which was maybe because of the summer time or the World Cup. The atrium is coming from the very important typology in architecture in Roman cities, but nowadays atriums are going to be different spatial typologies which we must interpret to the public space of large scale urban planning schemes. Its sometimes just for excuse, but it’s given them very important opportunities to think about safety system, or the insulation system, or fire protection, further is organize light and heat and air, and is mostly used as entrance. So that’s why it’s a very important meeting place. Of course as this is a university. The worry first about safety issues. They should also protect this kind of things. So that’s why the atrium is something like an untouchable zone for everybody. However, I think we can find a rule or make a good suggestion to negotiate the rules and bring activities together. That might be a very good place for exchanging culture and divers backgrounds. So hopefully this Atrium Behaviorolgy summer school can activate this kind of discussion.
We asked students to observe the conditions from existing references and the existing situation itself. Students found the sound, or sunlight, or light, or emptiness and so on. This project really demanded observations from the students.

Atrium Radio: Thank you very much for the interview.

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