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Hiroshi Hara: Wallpapers. Transcriptions about Spatial Concepts and Modes.

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Publication date1/01/2023
Host publicationProducts of of Reflexive Design
EditorsMargitta Buchert
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherJovis Verlag
Number of pages16
ISBN (electronic)9783868598346
ISBN (print)9783868597493
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The relation between theory and praxis in ancient Greek thought is not primarily functional or instrumental, since the theory is not a function of praxis, nor is praxis a heuristic instrument of theory, but is generative and foundational.
Accordingly, for his exhibition Wallpapers (2014), Japanese architect Hiroshi Hara prepared twenty-five Fragmentary Passages, as ways of displaying the personal Weltanschauung he calls architecture, modalities of interpreting spatial concepts used without boundaries or hierarchies. Bridging disciplines, Hara’s reflexive design has research as part of the design process itself: his practical research on West African savannah villages directly informs his design, after demonstrating that they constitute a semiotic paradigm made up of many elements.

Similarly, Hara rewrites his impeccably drawn and erudite texts on translucent sketch paper, which become layers of applied knowledge, between anthropology and philosophy, mathematics and poetry, ranging from Greek mythology to Neoplatonic philosophy, from Upaniṣad to Spinoza’s Ethica, making his design be a space-time in which light, air, earth, adverbs, and adjectives resonate. In a wallpaper extracted from René Descartes, Hara rewrites passages from the Principia Philosophiæ, using different colours to highlight words such as duratio, extensio, ordo, spatio, loco, linking them together to “describe his spatial concept of ‘extension’: putting ‘extensio’ and ‘cogito’ together”. In another wallpaper Hara quotes extensively from Spinoza’s Ethica: “If we read it as substance = nature, then all the changes that can be seen in nature are simply forms.” From Plotinus’ Enneads he highlights the concepts of prohodos (one to many) and epistrophe (many to one) to describe the urban development and history of another African village, the Algerian city of Ghardaïa, while using the topology of the Divine Comedy to describe the Yemeni city of Bani Mourah, where the base of high-rise buildings is made of stone and the rest of mud bricks: Hara would use the same concepts when designing the Umeda Sky Building (1993) in central Osaka, with its open-air observation deck at the top.

As is clear in his projects for the Kyoto Station (1997) or the Sapporo Dome (2001), Hara’s architecture is rich in these connections, capable of distilling in its essentiality image and reality, historical stratification and phenomenological evidence, geography, and human knowledge, whose particular measure is never mathematical or geometric, but reflexive to the point of coming together to draw into the fullness of existence.

The dialectical link between theory and praxis has a long history, being and at the same time distinctive and correlative: the relationship between bíos theoretikós and bíos prakticós not only delimits aspects consubstantial to “knowing how to do” at both the logical-theoretical and practical-political levels but also connotes the forms of communication of knowledge, as Hara has done in his Wallpapers.