Libraries in Mexico メキシコシティーの図書館


The glass floor of the book shelves. 本棚の周りはガラスの床。


We are at a factory in Mexico city. An automation line is accommodated in this big space. You recognize the book shelves along the conveyor, a book manufacturer? Sorry it was a lie we are not in a factory. It is in fact a library which was built several years ago. This linear space continues straight for several hundred meters. The library is designed around this linear void.  The reading space is on either side between the void and the exterior windows, an ideal condition with light and views provided for the readers. The book shelves are hung in the void but never move. You go to the shelves to find your books through small staircases and come back to your seat. Mezzanine floors that contain only book shelves are sandwiched between the concrete floors of the reading spaces. Elevators stop at each floor as wheel chair users and the Librarians’ wagons need to access every floor. We realized this is not a typical library that we know very well.



Who wants to spend so much money to build a facility just for book reading? It is almost a cathedral for books. This is not the library we are used to .



It seems there is very little staff for such a large collection. Do readers return the books to the original shelf by themselves? If so, it will be big work for them and will they put them back in precisely the original location? In New York you are supposed to drop the book into a big basket or leave it on the desk not return it to the original shelf. We wrote that the ideal library has a flat single floor, but this is the other way around. What if you have many books to read in many genres? You have to go up and go down many times.






In front of the louvers is a reading area, avoiding the strong light, the garden is visible between the louvers. 読書席がルーバーの後に。強い光を避けながら、隙間から庭園が見える仕組み。



Exterior. This linear expression is more than 200m surrounded by garden. 建物の外観、これが同じ表情で200m 以上続く。庭園も一緒に並んで続く。



This looks like a high end restaurant. The surrounding garden is visible through the slot between the old building and the new. 高級レストランさながら。庭園の緑が新旧建物の隙間から。

Next day we went to a national library. Although it is different from what you imagine from “national” there is no check to go in and you traverse the building through several entrances. It was renovated from an older library which had 4 square gardens by adding large roofs.  Shelves and reading seats are laid out in the squares. Through the gap between the old building and the new roof, sun light and a view of the garden outside are visible. The only support of the roof is by a huge central columns. This structure should be quite expensive.



Small archive rooms are accessed from the corridors surrounding the big square reading areas. These archives were recently renovated with a very high quality of design. I have seen them published in magazines and books. These archives are respectfully dedicated to the original book owners and house their entire collection and it is a huge collection. This demonstrates a culture that has a huge respect to or an obsession with books. I speculate Mexicans return the books to their original location responsibly no matter if it is faraway and up many flights of stairs. That explains what it is like at the new library. I should have asked about this system.



a lot of spare time today. 暇そうな職員たち。



stacked book shelves-the floor is glass, hung from the ceiling without columns. Amazing craftsmanship of stainless steel. 書架は二階建て。床はガラスで天井から吊られている。柱無し. ステンレス細工は驚きの職人わざ


As you see, a mezzanine floor accessed through a small staircase is common in these new libraries. It seems to be the traditional way of designing a library and is an expression of their respect and affection for books, which is gone in Japan or New York where books are considered disposable or treated roughly.



The mezzanine is accessed through a stair case 階段をのぼって中二階へ


A dedicated space for Braille, audio booths are suspended from above. Yellow guide lines on the floor. 点字専用図書室。 吊られているのは音声利用の個室。床に白線。


Does it make sense to build such a beautiful library for people who can not see well? Probably the small shelves are to improve acoustics. The book collection is coming. 目の不自由な人のためにこれほどの美しい空間を作って意味があるのか?ちょっと不思議。小さい本棚のようにみえるのはおそらく反射音響の改善のためか?蔵書の充実はこれから。


There has been a debate if written language was developed in north and south America before the Spanish invasion. There has been a recent full de-coding of the 4written language in Maya civilization, but it seems that the Teotihuacan civilization did not need a written language. How come this love of books developed? It must be an interesting process.

Despite the horrible history of the Spanish invasion, it is interesting to see the many amalgams of native and Spanish cultures. Is this book culture a reflection of this amalgam?



Hunter Point new Queens library ハンターポイント図書館


A new library designed by the star architect Steven Holl opened several  months ago in our neighborhood, well, the other side of the East River. A 15 minute ferry ride brings you to the east shore and into the middle of newly developed high rise housing. The library project started over 10 years ago and has finally became a real building. The unbelievably  long term for construction did not surprise us, we are also designing a library project for the City of New York. That project started with a walk though in 2014, and we are now still in the schematic design phase.



We were excited to see the completed project as we remember the very early stage of the façade from a decade ago and have been seeing this building under construction from the other side of the river for several years. It is very powerful. Randomly shaped big windows carve holes into the platonic boxy building.  It has such an abstract form, not friendly…  no entrance on the riverside (park side), a discreet entrance at the street side.



The inside instead is quite complicated, probably intended to be a Piranesian space,  mesmerizing, with elements of dramatic skipping floors, bridges, staircases and  arches inspired by the historic visionary Italian architect, but actually also messy.  What you feel in the space is very different from what the photos give us, the photos cut many things out of the frame. The design is challenging not because of the unusual façade or Piranesian space, but by the goal of consolidating and unifying them at the same time. We can see that the architect was struggling to achieve both. We read that these elements are not very well organized and not well synchronized with the random openings on the façade. In every project you want to bring something new to the world that will be a challenge but this was super ambitious.



Probably it is just our recognition that many things may not have been intended initially. We speculate that originally some bookshelves were installed at more reasonable locations. The current  bookshelves are located in abrupt and somewhat disturbing ways, the circulation collides with them, and they steal the scene….



We heard that the 2 skipping floors along the staircase used to have book shelves, but they were not handicap accessible; no elevator or escalator so the book were removed from those floors to somewhere else in the library. Books are probably not the biggest draw for the library, when we were there almost every table was full with people using their laptops.



This library has 5  floors and maybe more depending on how to count the tiny mezzanines and each floor has a small floor area, the general reading rooms were divided into smaller branch rooms. 40 years ago, we were taught that the ideal library has one floor for librarians who return borrowed books, and organize…. they constantly move books from one shelf to another according to expanding or shrinking sections. Also you don’t want to be sent to the next floor at the end of a shelf by the sudden ending of the alphabet after feeling that the book your searching book is very near, and find no book like it when you get there and come all the way back to the original floor. Knowing this the architect chose this height to stand out among the developer high-rises that surround it. It is New York’s version of the Sydney Opera house with its prominence on the waterfront.



Probably it is too popular, which is a good thing….it is in the middle of a densely populated area. We recommend that this is the first building you visit in new York City, it is definitely one of the best public buildings in New York。



Ford Foundation Open Houseフォード財団の公開

At this years New York Open House, a yearly event to see and experience New York buildings, Sandy was volunteering at the Ford Foundation building near the United Nations. The garden and their gallery are open to the public but many people did not know and took advantage of this time to visit.  Many people came.


The volunteer’s role is to guide visitors and to explain the architecture. This opportunity to visit other areas was a courtesy provided by the Ford Foundation.  Not all areas of the building were open but we as volunteers received a quick tour through the upper levels overlooking the garden  showing us their goals and their activity. The foundation’s goal is to improve social justice and they are happy to remind the public of their mission.


My first reaction was simply “ wow!” and “ how lucky we are we can see the inside!” and “how lucky they are!”, they can work everyday in this gorgeous working environment….


Then my next reaction was a question “why is this so gorgeous?”  The construction cost would have been exceptionally high, and the use of this footprint in this expensive city is extremely generous…. There is not so much floor area, commercial buildings could never afford it unless this spaciousness and richness of finish created more business, like banks or art museums.  Banks need to show that they are safe and profitable. Art museums need to  show their art collection is authentic and a ”must see” they need to entertain art lovers with their space. Unlike banks and museums one of our clients doing research to fight a serious disease wants to spend the majority of their donations for their facilities and equipment and some money for decent spaces for their staff. How much do we value space and luxurious finishes? It is all relative.


When we left the building, I was in a strange mood, a mixture of  happiness because of the experience and our good luck and at the same time, unhappiness, why can’t everyone have this environment? Don’t we all deserve this quality of working environment? Can other not-for-profit organizations like ” Doctors Without  Borders” which have noble missions have this office as their headquarters?


I have no answer … but, yes, all office spaces ”should ” have this quality.


MOMA PS1 ニューヨーク近代美術館別館

We found that the current MOMA Young Architects installation at PS1 will end today. We gave up all our other ideas of where to go this weekend and rushed to the museum. The installation is one of the experimental architectural pavilions that is selected each summer by MOMA from among fifty applicants. The winner’s installation this year looked interesting to us, it is like a Porcupine which has spiky hair. The edge of each hair is covered with blue tape which is not very visible in the pictures but is very effective, they create a blue envelope.

ニューヨーク近代美術館の別館PS1で新人建築家のインスタレーション作品が今日までだとしって、急遽、他の計画をあきらめてPS1に駆け付けた。インスタレーションは毎年、たくさんの応募の中から選ばれた案が一作品だけ 実験的に建てられる。今年の作品はハリネズミのごとく。毛の先は青い色のテープが張り付けられていて、全体の輪郭が青く浮かび上がるという仕掛け。写真では良く見えないかもしれないけれど、実際にはとても効果的。


Many colorful hammocks are hung from the pipe scaffolding. For me, the hammocks look ad-hoc without any context, not well integrated with the porcupine…hmm, but why? Modern life is exhausting… the hammocks are all occupied…. The inside surface is covered with a mesh screen that has images of tropical plants. I thought the inward-facing spiky hair could be blue too. I speculated that probably the designers (Pedro y Juana Architects from Mexico) wanted to hide the messy structure supporting the spikes, otherwise, it loses its strength as an image, and they did not have a generous amount of money to provide more than the screen and red hammocks.



Though in fact, this design makes me comfortable …. it looks fair to me. The installations have become more and more extravagant each year. MOMA seems to give a set budget to the designer but then the designers have to provide more money if they want to do more. Of course, a bigger budget makes the result more fabulous. If you cannot provide that extra money your show would be shabby, and if you raise more money your show will be fantastic… actually, all architects know money solves “everything”. It does not sound very fair. Your ability to raise money determines the success of your show. This reminds me a little of the election of politicians in the US. The best money collector will be the winner. Although here is the dilemma —— if you have a great idea but the money provided by your supporting organization is not enough, will you give up your full presentation or use your own money? or fund-raise?

でも、このデザインの在り方は快い…フェアにみえる。この数年、作品は次第に大がかりになってきて、すぐにゴミになってしまうものに、驚くほどの金が使われている。工事を担当した業者から聞いた話では美術館は一定の資金をデザイナーに与えてらしいのだけれど、それ以上の出費はデザイナー自身が払うそうな。金が有ればあるほど、より素晴らしい展示となる次第。金は何でも解決することは良く知られている事実。しかし、追加出費になるような高額案であっても勝ちたいのは人の常。金の有無が選ばれること、そして展示の成功の成否を握っているとしたら?金に物を言わせた作品ががいつも勝つとしたら、そしてそのような大掛かりなものしか評価されなくなるとしたら…何かフェアには聞こえない。なんだか 金をたくさん集められる候補者が勝者となるこの国の選挙をおもいだす。ここにジレンマがある。もし素晴らしいアイデアがあるのに、後援する組織は十分なお金を提供できないとしたら。諦めるだろうか?それとも自腹を切るか、さらなる後援者をさがすか?


Anyway, if you don’t have an unlimited budget you will figure out what to do within the budget you do have. This is a challenge that sometimes provides us with a new solution. I now understand that these red hammocks were the solution. The short life of the installation of just 2 months for the summer program reminds me of one of the Shinto shrines in Japan. Every shrine used to be a temporary building to receive the descendant of a god (or gods) at the harvest. The shrines became more and more fabulous and costly every year, but then they started to reuse them for the next year and the next year….. After many centuries they gave up the tradition, except for Ise shrine. They keep the building for 20 years then demolish it and rebuild a new one, identical in design. The design has been handed down for more than a thousand years but the inheritance is the concept, not the building itself. The enormous expense is supported by religious faith.



The building is invisible because of the high fence that surrounds it.  The explanation for this has been  that invisibility or that fact that it is unapproachable gives us something sublime. But this idea that preserving a concept (with an object which embodies the concept) is the purpose, but not the physical object may give a better explanation. Linage in Japan means that in many art forms disciples must preserve their master’s design strictly without development. Ever young Ise shrine doesn’t fit the World Heritage’s idea— understandable.


Horseshoe crab カブトガニ

20190615_194653For the last few years, it has become an early summer ritual to go to Jamaica Bay and help count Horseshoe crabs. Late May-early June is their mating season and at high tide, a crew of volunteers organized by the Audubon Society heads out to the beaches of Jamaica Bay to count. The eggs that they lay are an important food source for migrating sea birds.

この数年間、ジャマイカ湾へ行って カブトガニの数を数えて生息状況を調査するのが初夏のしきたりになっている。五月下旬から6月初旬の高潮が繁殖の時期。カブトガニの卵は海鳥の回遊に重要な食糧となるそうな。野鳥保護を始めたオデュボーンの名にちなんだ、オデュボーン学会によって毎年ボランティアが募集される。20170611_204155_Burst01.jpgIt is always a lovely trip, from Manhattan over the Brooklyn bridge and under the Verrazano narrows bridge to Plumb Beach. This year there were more than enough volunteers so I had the task of looking for crabs that had tags on them and picking up the garbage that is constantly being washed onto the beach.

目的地の海岸までの道中も なかなかの楽しい道のり。マンハッタンからブルックリン橋やベラザノナローズ橋を渡って、市の南端にあるプラムビーチに至る。今年はボランティアが沢山集まったので、楽な仕事をもらえた。再帰してきたカニを探す役と、岸に集まるゴミを同時に集める仕事。毎年何匹かのカニが捕らえられ、標識のバッジが付けて放される。20190615_194100It was unusual this year, high tide was during daylight. In previous years we had headlamps and were searching in the dark. It was the first time for me to have the mating rituals in full view. Females do not move, they dig into the sand and the males try to attach to anything that is not moving. I have no idea what is the next step for the bewildered males when they find out the object they attached to is just a human foot.


20190615_192642.jpgThere was also a lot of surf, so the horseshoe crabs had to work that much harder and persevere. We helped flip some over that were being tossed around in the high waves. They do a very good Darth Vader impression. In fact their flipped side looks more grotesque. The Hollywood movie industry has successfully implanted an evil impression of this kind of creature on us…..They look aggressive and harmful but actually are much safer than New Yorkers. They are meekly floating on the waves, silent, almost cute.


20190615_192709It was interesting to see the sea life that has fastened onto the shells of the crabs, one was covered in seaweed, others had intricate sculptures of barnacles and shells.  It means they hardly move, I guess.


20190615_195200My fellow volunteers were New Yorkers, happily embracing these alien invaders- they are interested in the water life that surrounds the city and the families wanted their children to learn about the rich natural life that a big city like New York has. As I said good night and left the beach the sky was still bright.

今回のボランティアの仲間たちは この大都市ニューヨークに生息する水性生物に興味がある人たちや、家族の子供たちが豊かな自然を学んでほしいと思っているニューヨーカーたちだった。さよならを言って別れた。空がまだ明るい。






























Akaishi Bairin Plum Orchard 赤石梅林

20190418_041426sWe are now at a small valley near the east coast of Shikoku Island, where plums are produced for liquor and ume-boshi, pickles. We were here 5 years ago too, but this time we went to the deepest end of the valley. In the last blog I wrote it is almost equivalently beautiful to the many beautiful villages in Italy. After removing my fantasy to Italy and nostalgia to Shikoku, I still think so. This landscape is everywhere in japan but this place has something special. There are no buildings which use industrial cladding materials. There is very little traffic. These two conditions make this valley appear to be frozen in time from 100 yeas ago. There is no way to cross the mountain through the end of the valley, so no cars from outside use the valley. There are no shops, no advertising, no parking, no vending machines (which are everywhere even many in the beautiful country side of Japan). The locals go shopping at supermarkets in the next closest village. The old traditional houses are not poor, they are well maintained probably because of the plum industry.

四国の南東部、海岸からほど近いところにある梅林の渓谷に来ている。5年前にも来ていた。そこからさらに谷の奥まで来ている。前のブログで、イタリアなどの風光明媚な村々に比べても、勝るとも劣らないと書いた。イタリアへのあこがれと、四国へのノスタルジーどちらも注意深く心の中から差し引いた(つもりで)後でも やはりそう感じる。わたしだけであろうか?私がこの谷に感じる美しさは、日本のどこにでもあるのだが、それでも特別ではある。ここには特殊な条件がある。新建材で覆われた建物がまったくない。車の交通量が極端に少ない。その二つから、100年前の景色が凍り付けにされているように見える。この谷を登りつめると、行き止まりになって山を越えることが出来ない。そのため通過交通が一切ない。商店も、看板も、駐車場も自動販売機もない。谷の外へ出ればスーパーはすぐそこ。それでも梅産業のおかげだろうか、古い家々が美しく維持されている。


At a rice paddy I timidly spoke to the people working, pretending we are local from near by but just lost. We clearly looked like strangers. I rehearsed  in my brain, preparing in my local dialect making sure not to speak in Tokyo dialect… ” Excuse me but what is the fence you are putting up for, why do you need it?”



An Immediate smile returned “ against deer.”  “ what? deer here? unbelievable.” This area shouldn’t be remote enough to have deer. How quiet is this village.




After taking these photos, I realized they look as if they are from a Japanese garden. I thought Japanese gardens may be an abstraction of this landscape. Then no, no, I thought, eyes which have been seeing Japanese gardens find this landscape beautiful. Finally I thought, maybe it is both like an egg-chicken conundrum.



20190418_035327sBy the way, isn’t this bridge scarily thin? We went down under the bridge, and  found that only three “I” beams are holding it up. You hardly see this thickness unless it is someone who is pursuing the simplest proportions of modern architecture. It also looks like a Japanese sword. We left there feeling like we had received a special gift got a godsend.



FAIA 米国建築家協会フェロー


Sandy, the coauthor of this blog became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, FAIA. The AIA New York chapter organized a celebration party for the new FAIA members. Wikipedia says FAIA is an architect who has made outstanding contributions to the profession through design excellence, contributions in the field of architectural education, or to the advancement of the profession. There are several categories, but her coverage spans design, education and community contribution, which is unusual and hopefully will be a new role model. The AIA allotted two minutes for speeches by new FAIAs at the reception. It is really hard to summarize what the achievements were in that time. 2 minutes flies past instantly. You do not have room to joke or tell a story.

(We found we were silly to believe that we needed to follow that rule, some people entertained the audience with jokes and “thank you speeches” for 5 minutes like the Oscars, they needed that special music to call them off stage. I hope people do not think all architects are like that.)

このブログの共著者であるサンディーが米国建築家協会のフェローになった。FAIAという肩書になるのだが、名誉上級会員と訳せばいいのだろうか?そのニューヨーク支部で祝賀会があった。ウィキペディア曰く、優れたデザイン、教育、職能の向上を通して、目覚ましい貢献をした建築家に与えられるのだそうな。いろんなカテゴリがあるが、彼女の場合はデザインからコミュニティーへの貢献、後進の教育にまたがっていて、これまでにないタイプで、これからのモデルになると素晴らしい。レセプションのまえに新人FAIA が手短に業績を紹介するスピーチをする。2分間という決められた時間の中で、表彰された理由を要約するのは至難のわざで、ジョークを入れたり、語り調にする余裕はない。2分なんてあっという間に経ってしまう。



A few days later we organized our own reception inviting our friends and clients. We chose to hold it at the blue origami wall of the MS imaging center that we designed a few years ago. Actually the wall will be torn down in several months for an extension of this medical facility. The reception was also meant to celebrate the short life of the blue origami wall. Many images of this wall have been published, so today’s guests would know it but experiencing the space at this scale was quite different… everybody looked curious and asked us “ How come?” noting how sad it was that it was being torn down.



In June the AIA is having another event for new FAIAs in Las Vegas. They require men to wear “ black tie” and there will be dancing. One of the coauthors is getting less excited to join it.



Möbius Torus from Origami オリガミ製メビウスのトーラス…

8 years ago, I posted an idea about making an origami tube into a torus. Rolling flat origami into a tube

In fact, the folding pattern is too difficult to fold for mass-production and the curvature is very subtle as the pattern is too rigid to curve and creates a huge radius. So this time I made a different model with a simpler pattern.  The section of the tube is designed to be an equilateral triangle. Ignoring the zig-zag pattern of the folds, the torus looks like it is composed of 3 twisted surfaces.  If you trace any of the 3 ridges you can see they disappear before coming back to the starting point, yet the 3 ridges are continuous and part of one envelope. It is like a Möbius strip which has a continuous front and back, but this torus has an additional surface. When you make this tube from paper, the two ends of paper are combined, but the pattern where they meet at the ends is shifted like misaligned buttons holes. That is why the triangle spirals.

8年前に 丸めてチューブにと題してオリガミでトーラスを作るというアイデアを紹介した。実はその時のパタンでは量産するには骨が折れるし、曲がりがゆっくりとした巨大なリングを作らないといけない。しかし別なパタンなら部屋の中に納まるかもしれない。トーラスの断面を工夫すれば捻じれが良く見えるだろう。断面が正三角形になるようにデザインしたのが下の写真。折り目のジグザグを無視すれば、三面でできているように見える。しかし三角の一つの角をトーラスに沿って目で追って行くと一周しても元の点に戻らないで後ろ側へ入って行く。実は一面しかない。すべて一続きになっている。まるでメビウスの帯のみたいだが、帯の裏表の面だけではなくて、もう一つの面を持っている。メビウスの帯を作る時に端をねじってリングを作るのと同じように、ここでも、ボタンのかけ間違いみたいに紙の端部をずらしてジョイントすると捻じれが生じる。

By definition, a symmetrical shape becomes the same shape when it is rotated through certain angles, so a tube can be combined at both ends after spiraling to become a torus. In the case of equilateral triangles it can rotate 120 , 240, 360, 480…. to create a torus. In fact an odd number of corners like a triangle or a pentagon cannot meet at the ends without shifting the “button holes ”. On the contrary, an even number of corners does not have to be shifted to have those ends meet.


Above is an example of a rhomboid section. The ends meet when rotated by 180 degrees. The twist is very slow so that the total length of the paper reaches 8m before it is folded.  A 360 degree rotation will require twice that length of paper. By the way, when tightly folded, both the triangle and the rhombus lose the twist and become a simple column. The spiral happens only when they are expanded (see the photo below).


left; compressed triangular section, right: rhombus section. 左:三角断面、右:菱形断面

In the image below can you see that the triangle spins 360 degrees and comes back to the beginning? The 3 ridges spiral along the envelope of the torus,  which are not the crease ridges of folding. Lets call that ridge the “ modulated ridge“ to distinguish it from the creases of the envelope that are created by folding. Any one of the 3 modulated ridges will come back to the starting point, without crossing each other. This means they are independent and triple helical. A rotation of  120 or 240 degrees will result in the ridges aligning. There is only one modulated ridge, there is no front and back but a continuous surface. ( in the same way the DNA double helix does not cross). In detail, the creases that make up this ridge are also a single continuous surface.


This model is designed to spiral even when tightly folded. This speeds up the twisting along the tube faster than the previous models, and thankfully the torus has a smaller radius. Additionally in the previous models the weight of the paper pulled down the shape creating kinks in the form, the twisting speed is even here so that the influence of gravity is negligible and kinks don’t happen.

このモデルの場合、筒を折りたたんだ時にも その形自身が螺旋を描くように折りパタンを計算した。面白いことに、そのために捻じれの速度が速い。トーラスの径が小さくなるので、大変ありがたい。しかも、重力で垂れ下がる部分が無視できるほど小さく、捻じれの程度がどこでも一様なので折れ曲がりキンクが起こらない。

By the way, suppose these models are 1/100 scale architectural models! The ceiling would be around 15m high. What do they look like inside? Can you imagine? It will be amazing!!





Women’s March 女性の行進

I have attended the women’s march for the last 3 years and I am always recharged and encouraged by the energy and hope— we all seem to think we can make things better.

There was a lot of whining this year about how there were fewer people and there was not a consolidated idea behind marching- but I really wonder if there needs to be. It was great to see a truly diverse group of women out there, and some fantastic signs, raunchy, funny, serious and so disrespectful sometimes.


今年は人が減ったことや、行進の背後にある統合された考えがなかったことについて多くの意見が寄せられたが、その必要が本当にあるのでだろうか? 多様な女性のグループが出ているのを見るのは本当に素晴らしかった。

I joined up with the women designers, engineers, architects, and landscape architects- any women in a design profession (or not) was welcome in the group. There have been several newspaper articles lately about why aren’t there more women architects? Lots of reasons and women architects are still often not paid as much as their male colleagues, but there were over 73 women willing to come out and march together under the banner of #women build.

私は女性のデザイナー、エンジニア、建築家、造園家と一緒にいた。デザインの仕事をしている女性は誰でも大歓迎。 最近、なぜ女性建築家が増えないのかについてのいくつかの記事新聞に載った。 そこには多くの理由がある。女性建築家が彼らの男性の同僚ほどまだ給料が支払われていない。一緒に出て行進したいと思う女性たち#women buildのプラカードの下に73人以上いた

One of my favorite groups that I shared several blocks of the march with seemed to be friends from high school. They were a completely racially mixed group of women, black, yellow, white and every shade in-between; they were singing and dancing and eager to change the world.

数街区を共に歩いたいくつかのグループの中で、私が気に入ったのは、完全な人種の混ざり合ったグループで高校時代の友達らしい、黒人、黄色人、白人、そしてそれらの混ざり合ったさまざまな色のグループだ。 歌と踊り―――そして世界を変える情熱。

There were, of course politically focused signs and many volunteers to sign up anyone who was not registered to vote.

Someone stopped me and asked “can’t you build us a better White House?”  I said “we sure are trying….”


見ていた人が尋ねてきた。「あなた方は私たちのために良いホワイトハウスを作れるわよね?」…… 答えて曰く、「頑張ります。」



Bowne House ボウンハウス

For this years “Open House New York “volunteer assignment I was sent to Queens and on my way home I discovered this wooden house, the oldest house in Queens, preserved for its significance in the history of New York.  John Bowne was the author of the declaration that was the first step in confirming religious freedom for Americans and his family lived in the house for 9 generations.

毎年オープンハウスニューヨークのボランティアに参加しているが、今年はクイーンズにある大きな庭園とその中にある古い家 ジョン・ボウン ハウスを選んだ。クイーンズ地区に現存する最も古い家屋で、ニューヨークの重要な歴史の証人として保存されている。米国で最初に宗教の自由の宣言書を書いたジョン・ボウンがここに住み、その後9世代が住んでいた。

A member of the family was the founder of one of the first nurseries in NYC who collected trees and plants from around the world. He is the one responsible for the wonderful garden and the collection of specimen trees.  Many of their descendants have been spread across the country from this garden in Queens.  The garden is huge compared with the typical suburban houses and the street is lined with large oak trees planted by the family. It was originally farmland but now it is surrounded by masonry low-rise apartments, so out of place in this dense environment.


In this garden I met two interesting women, one had been a professional gardener and the other was an architect who is also the caretaker of the house. The caretaker lives in the house and lovingly cares for the garden. The house is part of the New York City Parks Department system,  but like most of the parks in the city the parks department cannot maintain it by themselves and they rely on volunteers. She was looking for more help to prepare for the winter


I brought another volunteer with me today. We are here to prune and trim trees. As some of the plants are rare and have historical value as part of the original planting, you have to be careful how to cut. This additional helper amputated even the largest branches. The architect looked a bit worried. Did he meet her expectation?


There is no photo showing it but there was a huge pile of trimmed branches. You will see the results of our work next spring. We were invited to come again.




AllKB on the waterfront ウォーターフロントのAllKB 



Every fall the Alliance for Kip’s Bay has been planting and cleaning up Glick Park, located just south of  the United Nations. But this year it is closed for renovation, so this fall for the “It’s My Park Day”  we traveled outside the park. “It’s My Park Day” is a twice a year event sponsored by the NY Partnership for Parks, who supply tools, bulbs and this year bright pink spotted garbage bags. Volunteers gather throughout the city to work on their local parks.



Our neighborhood is changing- we have a new park, new buildings and and a ferry service connecting 35th street to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Astoria, all taking advantage of our location on the waterfront. Our clean up was focused on the area  by the ferry terminal, part of the East River Greenway where we worked on the tree beds south of Glick Park. Our efforts focused on making this piece of the Greenway, a greener place to relax and enjoy the waterfront. Our work also contributed to a special project;  as a memorial to the victims of 9/11 this year 500,000 daffodil bulbs are being planted throughout the city.



We organized volunteers  from NYCares (an volunteer organizer), a local school and the local men’s shelter.  We dug up the rock-hard ground, planted 1,000 bulbs out of the 500,000, and discovered snoozing worms.





The ferry route was expanded this year. It has been welcomed by the community, bringing more pedestrians and other New Yorkers into the neighborhood. This transit node has been demonstrating the potential that a continuous  bike/pedestrian Greenway would create along the East River. The Greenway is a potential loop around the entire island, although it has a gap. Currently the Greenway north of the ferry terminal  disappears at the UN which you can see in the background of the photo. North of the UN, the section from 60th down to 53rd  is ready to be closed, but still the UN will remain one of the biggest barriers to continuous waterfront access. We keep advocating for a continuous route but it seems a distant goal. I finished our work hoping this will help to make this stretch of the waterfront an welcoming accessible neighborhood amenity.



We are all looking forward to the spring to see the blooms on our waterfront and then get back to Glick Park.


Bike Tourism, Shikoku Henro 四国自転車ツーリズム 遍路道


The river ahead and the city road beyond. この先は川があり、その先は市道

Today we are bicycling further inland following the pilgrimage route of the Shikoku 88 Temples. Most of the original ancient routes are developed with wide modern paved roads except for the very tiny paths in the mountains. Sidewalks can be used as bike lanes as no one is walking these day, but actually the sidewalks are not continuous so we had to cross the traffic constantly switching from one side to the other. Some parts of the old roads remain and the main traffic doesn’t use them anymore, but they are very short, interrupted by the new roads and you never have a really relaxed ride.



A rural road in between the mountain and the river. 山と川に挟まれた田んぼ道

If you ride a parallel route, for instance on the opposite shore of a river which is on the main route, you can have fairly nice travel. These photos are a good explanation…. We found that this side of the river is much quieter and has much less traffic. These narrow streets are almost like dedicated bike lanes as only local people use these meandering roads which discourage fast driving and actually are not needed by the local people. Very few bridges join this area to the other side. Why don’t we publish a map that carefully connects these local routes and call it a continuous “ bike route”? There must be a lot of similar locations like this.


This cul-de-sac road ends at the mountain. 反対側、山があって行き止まり




We are now in a village. Unfortunately this potential bike route hits a heavily trafficked car route. There is a temple in this village “Byodo-ji” the 22nd of the 88 temples. Traffic passes just in front of it. It is very quiet for someone who came from a city but you cannot be totally relaxed. A parking lot is provided by the temple.

村の中に入ってきた。「自転車散策道」は残念ながら 村の中に入いる地点で車の行き交う道路と合流する。この村には四国巡礼88寺の一つがあって、門前は車がよく通る。都会から来れば十分閑散としているが、それでも車への注意は欠かせない。お遍路に駐車場さえ用意されている。


Byodo-ji main hall. This unsophisticated garden is not like in Kyoto but is very charming. 22番札所 平等寺本堂 この洗練されていない庭がいかにも四国らしくて良い。

To follow our original path back would not be boring but it would be daunting, it would be a long distance and there is a tough hill in between. If we can take a train from this village it would be great for our tired legs but our bikes do not fold and we have no covers which are both required by the railway company, even in an empty car.  It does not make sense, no one would be annoyed, and it helps maintain the passenger deficit by excluding cyclists. This rule is a inheritance of the golden age when trains were always packed. The weather is getting dark. Let’s take a quick visit to the main building and have a panoramic glance at the village, and trace our way back.




orange: this trip, yellow: last trip オレンジ:今回の旅、黄:前回の旅

Bike Tourism in Shikoku 四国自転車ツーリズム

between fishing villages 漁村から漁村へ

Every country is having difficulty to maintain their train system outside of the big cities. Cars came to the world just over 100 years ago, and quickly became something we cannot imagine being without. Google map ignores railway lines. In North America cars dictate the materialistic world and also the spiritual world—-world view, someone criticized it as Ford-ism. Train systems in the countryside are becoming extinct.


In such a global situation, a new idea for train systems is emerging, updating the old idea of trains being just transportation from one point to another, it is now entertainment with train rides introducing beautiful views and interesting towns. This reminds me of the cross continental trains or ocean cruises. Those tickets sell  out quickly. If this is effective even in the country side, local lines may be reactivated. Nowadays the local routes are losing passengers and therefore service and as a consequence they lose more passengers…


Today, we are 20km from Tokushima  and about 100km from Muroto. There was a cyclist on the bank of the beach. He was wearing racing gear on a super light bicycle equipped with GPS. He takes a bicycle tour every weekend and typically rides about 200km. He says some bike routes are well separated from car traffic like the one we are on but mainly he shares the road with cars. We are amazed with his passion as  touring with vehicle traffic cannot be pleasant. If he can skip heavy traffic in and around the city by bringing his bike on the train, his tour would be fabulous. He also could have a much longer bike ride.


What if we can launch cycling tourism? Many more people would visit the country side by easily carrying  their bikes onto the train.  You can get off at a station and get back on again from a different station, even a different line. This would be a long day but a real trip. Actually we do this with the New York city subway. The direction of travel is always opposite to the rush hour commuters, particularly on the weekends when the subway is not crowded.


The other thing we can do is to organize routes which are safe and have fewer interactions with car traffic. A dedicated bike path is ideal. The route can zig-zag, it is not the shortest ride, but we can enjoy the beautiful scenery and simply ride; visiting towns and villages. The shoulder of the road can be widened and defined as a bikeway. Sidewalks may be shared with bikes if pedestrian use is them very rarely.


Because it is not easy to get to the local towns it means that an undeveloped simple environment is still there. Once it is developed for tourism assuming car access it will bring more traffic and end up with wider roads and bring more traffic.  This bad circulation will threaten the quiet environment which was the charm of that location. On the contrary, train tourism preserves the environment but requires a sustainable number of passengers. Some weekend-cyclists carry their bikes in their car to reach areas outside the city, but they have to come back to the car. It is not a bike tour. They have to go through heavy traffic again to come back on Sunday evening. If bicycle and train travel are combined, more people can easily access many places keeping the environment and culture there and along the way. In order to do this, trains and platforms need to be easily accessed. Not only professional cyclists but recreational cyclists like us can easily travel very far, even on the way home from work. The current health boom may spur bike tourism. What about touring to the 88 Temples of Shikoku by bicycle…..


ALLKBA at Glick Park グリック公園

In our neighborhood there are public parks and streets which need flowers and trees, but the ground is so dry and hard – it has been left forgotten for so many years. KBNA is a not for profit organization that takes care of the flowers and plants at Glick Park and also the tree pits near the park that are part of the bicycle lane system.


One of the activities our group supported was posted in this blog, we proposed a service roadway to become a real public amenity, street cafes , seating a kids play area and an event space where local musicians can mingle with residents.  The streets should become more lively and active, unfortunately our proposal was  denied by people who live in the adjacent property. It should have benefited them but they were not convinced.






Our targets are any kind of park/garden and streets which will contribute to making urban living better and enhance community life. 私たちの活動の目的は、どんな公園でも構わず、地域コミュニティーを活性化して、より良い生活の助けになるようにすること。




One of them is this ….. park, with it’s fantastic view of the East River, a full panorama although the park is not well recognized . We want to make this park more beautiful and popular. Today we planted flowers and shrubs  and our next task is to keep them watered.


The neighbors who believe this park will make the community better got together to take care of the garden. They came from many different backgrounds. An Estonian who  recently arrived noted that the medical system is terrible here, a Chinese family and so on. What made them to come to join this activity? Look at their kids full of curiosity and having fun. Their contribution is so great. Why not more kids? Why not more adults?


They came from many different backgrounds—-old migrants and new immigrants. An Estonian who recently arrived is working hard complaining that the medical system is terrible here. What made them to come to join this activity? Look at their kids full of curiosity and having fun. Their contribution is so great. Why not more kids? Why not more adults?.




Lamma Island ランマ島、香港

We are now in Hong Kong. We were here 10 years ago too. It has changed so much, Kowloon castle is gone, HSBC bank designed by Sir Norman Foster was the rare tall building and looked like it was predicting the future and soon Bank of China by IM Pei joined it, but now they are settled among the 100 tall anonymous buildings. Their facades still have a unique significance but did they demonstrate a model for the next generation?  We are not sure. Last time we were here we saw, I think, more people walking on the streets but today hardly to see people on the streets, possibly it is too hot and today is weekend. One difference is many shops and restaurants moved into high rises so that you can not see them from streets. You will find them through internet but not hanging around the city. This is the same phenomena we saw in Tokyo on the way here. Shops and restaurants are so sophisticated but the city sadly lost the face of activity. Remember how cities use to be… shops and restaurants were exposed on streets and joy of hanging around the city. I guess people prefer air conditioned space to explore the city.

今香港に来ている。10以上年前にも来たけれど大きく変わっている。九龍城はなくなり、ノーマンフォスター卿のデザインしたHSBC銀行は今はさらに高い沢山のビルの中に紛れてしまった。かつては周りの高層ビルのなかでひときわ目立つ、香港の未来を先取すると思われた建物で、そのあとIMペイのデザインした中国銀行のビルがそれに加わった。これらの建物のユニークで魅力的なファサードは、次世代のモデルになるだろうか?かなり疑わしい。さて、前回ここに来た時、もっと通りに人が歩いていたと思うけれど、今日はあまり人を見ない。週末だからだろうか? そのわけはレストランや商店が高層ビルの中に入っていったからではないだろうか?インターネットで調べてくるので、もうぶらぶら歩きをしなくなったのではないか?これと同じ傾向を東京でも見た。店やレストランは上品になって、大きなビルの中に他の店や事務所と一緒に納まり、表からは隠れてしまって、町は賑わいを失いつつあるのあるではないか?たぶん人々は町を散策するよりは冷房の効いたモールを好むようになったのかもしれない。

Today we came to an island called Lamma which is a 40 minute boat ride from the center of Hong Kong, one of many islands in that make up Hong Kong. Despite its image Hong Kong has hundreds of  islands and they are attracting more tourists.


After landing on the narrow walkway of the pier we walked up the main street that goes deep into the island through restaurants, shops, cafes and beaches and lovely clean public changing rooms. It is so nice and relaxing. Why is that…? It took a while to figure it out.


Yes, no cars!! Absolutely no cars on this island. Isn’t it a privilege not to have any cars and still be part of a city? In other words, does every community have to allow cars into every street and  be continuous to every other part of the city, giving up a sense of community? Why can’t individual parts of the city be like an island? Is it really so inconvenient? …


New York is considered the most functionally designed and most exciting city (a  simple straight grid and wide streets) in the world. In a grid system, every corner is equivalent (and almost the same) and exposed to heavy car traffic. For some people exhausting means exciting….  But is it really so ?


All of the photos above were taken along the small but main street. You can click all images to enlarge… for a more spatial experience. ここに載せた写真はすべてこの島のメインストリートたる細い道から取ったもの。クリックすれば臨場感のある大写しに…。

new ORIGAMI hat design at Easter Parade 新オリガミ帽デザインイースターパレードで

The Easter Parade came again this year. We have been creating new hat forms since we joined the parade in 2013. This year we experimented with a series of hats created from a single tube of origami. They are all composed of one sheet of paper (to be precise a tube). Six papers are combined to form a long tube, otherwise one long sheet of paper is cumbersome to handle. Precisely speaking, these final forms are not mathematically “origami”. Making a tube with origami is a precise mathematical process, however when it is bent to become a torus we are using the flexibility of paper. In other words, if the material is very hard it cannot be used to make these hats.


tube before folding. thin folding lines are printed. 折る前の筒、かすかに折れ線が印刷されている

Many people were attracted to these hats and constantly asked for permission to take photos. Some wanted their picture to be taken together with our models. They were amazed with the forms but strangely they didn’t ask any questions. Simply they don’t care how the hats are made? Or they are lost for words as they have not seen this design? Only a friend of ours asked questions to satisfy his curiosity.


I answered  “We don’t use any origami generating program software. We use Computer Aided Drawing software just to draw lines more precisely than hand drawing.”


“We fold for fun and for finding practical applications but also for transcendence through mathematics without equations and formulas.  If any computer program starts generating these forms automatically, I will quit origami.”


Please check different designs posted in the past. 過去のデザインもご覧あれ。