Tokyo Style

Wiel Arets & Wim van den Bergh, Wiederhall 1 (1986): 1-6.

‘Time is not a whole, for the simple reason that it is itself the instance which prevents the whole’

–Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs

If we think of architecture as a Proustian recherche, as a research towards future and as a search for truth and essence, then every project might be regarded as a conversation with the touch of genius. Searching for truth means interpreting, deciphering, explicating. It is always temporal. Truth is always a truth of time. The question of style, as it was raised by the A Style For The Year 2001 competition where our proposal won a third prize, is in general a question for unity and totality. In our views however it is not premised by parts of unity lost or of totality fragmented. Nor is it preconfigurable by logical developments or organic evolutions. Its unity might only be discovered as an effect. It will not be created artificially. It will be created afterwards, as in Balzac's Human Comedy. Like by Balzac so in our projects all elements of a future style exist, but only not yet converted to establish effect.

Style does not suggest. It does not mirror, but explicates. It explicates with images, which say what they have to say. What remains,what gains new values, is the pell-mell, without any concern about totality or unity. Totality, with its sovereign order and logos of style, with its vertical communication expressing a hierarchy of rules, positions and oppositions, is changed into a world of anarchic meetings; of forceful coincidences and transversal communications. If a product of architecture communicates with the public and stimulates it, if it communicates with other products of the same architect and stimulates them, and if it communicates with products of other artists too and stimulates forthcoming ones, then this will always happen in the transversal dimension where unity and totality will be established for themselves without unification or totalization of objects or subjects. Deepening of every encounter in each new project, with place, time, society, technics, experiences, practices and other influencing factors, is to be preferred to the comfort of recognition and method. Contemporary architectural debate seems to be stuck in the ironies of its own discipline and history. It lacks the urge to search for the essentials, those of form, materials and technics, in service of basic human conditions. The truth of the architectural product has been missed. Architecture still plays the game of transversal communication within itself. It is a kind of interior monologue. Yet in the outside transversal communication reigns everywhere. It reigns the reality of all of the reality of our individuating mass media society as well as the anarchy of metropolism.

In the metropolis—Tokyo for instance—metro travelling is a transversal of the multitude of places. It confirms their absolute difference, thus constituting the living metropolis, its essence, its truth. Just like transversal communication between rooms or places of a house, especially at a tower house. It is in the tower house that unity and totality will be established by their own needs. Something of their essence might be brought about by compulsion and coincidences of artificial and natural; of inside and outside, created through confrontation of materials like concrete and glass blocks. In the glass block floors for instance. Or in their quality as an enclosing shell. But difference as a quality of a world can only be affirmed by means of a kind of selfrepeat running through a diversity of atmospheres, unifying a multitude of things. Repetition will constitute the steps of an original difference, but also the multitude will constitute the plane of a repetition not less fundamental: that of the reality of life.