Simple Shape's 'What We Saw' Review: 3. The Japanese House, Barbican Centre, London

Well...there has been a bit of a gap since our last 'What We Saw' journal review (can I claim our own exhibition for Craft Week as part of the reason?!) So, for our belated third review I visited the Japanese House exhibition. I have long been interested in Japanese cultural life (my Dad used to travel to Japan regularly and I loved listening to the stories of his visits) so this has been firmly on my 'must-do' list. Now I just need to get to Japan in real life (that's on a slightly more ambitious 'must-do' list!)

The Japanese House, Architecture and Life after 1945
Barbican Centre, London, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS
until 25th June 2017

A view across the black atrium to the vivid yellow, brilliantly lit, opposite gallery.

A view across the black atrium to the vivid yellow, brilliantly lit, opposite gallery.

Making the absolute most of the Barbican Centre's iconic space this exhibition is designed to lure, challenge and surprise you. Rooms within rooms, vivid colour, near darkness and explorations of 'lightness' all play their part in enticing and tempting you through the show.

A truly terrible photo (I didn't have my tripod) of Takefumi Aida's playful Toy Block House (1978) pin-point lit in the 'Inhabiting the Experimental' gallery, a boundary-pushing reinterpretation of tradition.

A truly terrible photo (I didn't have my tripod) of Takefumi Aida's playful Toy Block House (1978) pin-point lit in the 'Inhabiting the Experimental' gallery, a boundary-pushing reinterpretation of tradition.

With its starting point rooted in post-atomic 1945 the exhibition seeks to explore how the house became almost a symbol of experimentation during this unique period of history, how "...the post-war condition in Japan created a window for the languages of tradition and modernity to fuse". Japanese craft, European architecture, an interesting playfulness, a rejection of the old, acceptance of the new, and an exploration of 'lightness', arguably "Japan's greatest contribution to the global history of architecture" are mapped out across the two floors of the show.

Sou Fujimoto's House NA is the response to the marked return by young people to urban living. The spatial challenge is interpreted here by allowing the user, rather than the architect, to determine the function of the space. Stacked irregular rooms, floors, layers and platforms leave the user free to choose how to use them.

Sou Fujimoto's House NA is the response to the marked return by young people to urban living. The spatial challenge is interpreted here by allowing the user, rather than the architect, to determine the function of the space. Stacked irregular rooms, floors, layers and platforms leave the user free to choose how to use them.

House in Kyodo by Go Hasegawa, an example of 'Lightness' arguably "Japan's greatest contribution to the global history of architecture" and the result of the Japanese environment, "(the)...warm, humid climate and frequent earthquakes...have resulted in lightweight, open and airy structures."

House in Kyodo by Go Hasegawa, an example of 'Lightness' arguably "Japan's greatest contribution to the global history of architecture" and the result of the Japanese environment, "(the)...warm, humid climate and frequent earthquakes...have resulted in lightweight, open and airy structures."

Looking down and through on rooms-within-rooms-within-rooms. Views through the Moriyama House by Ryue Nishizawa which is constructed accurately at 1:1 scale, "where the gallery obstructs the architecture of the house, the structure is sliced open, exposing the domestic interior in section."

Looking down and through on rooms-within-rooms-within-rooms. Views through the Moriyama House by Ryue Nishizawa which is constructed accurately at 1:1 scale, "where the gallery obstructs the architecture of the house, the structure is sliced open, exposing the domestic interior in section."

Set dressing details are carefully considered and chosen by Yasuo Moriyama the client for Nishazawa's architecture.

Set dressing details are carefully considered and chosen by Yasuo Moriyama the client for Nishazawa's architecture.

Set dressing details are carefully considered and chosen by Yasuo Moriyama the client for Nishazawa's architecture.

Set dressing details are carefully considered and chosen by Yasuo Moriyama the client for Nishazawa's architecture.