Character and physiognomy in the work of Atelier Bow-wow

Johansen, Benjamin (2007). Character and physiognomy in the work of Atelier Bow-wow B.A. Thesis, School of Geography, Planning & Env Management, The University of Queensland.

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Author Johansen, Benjamin
Thesis Title Character and physiognomy in the work of Atelier Bow-wow
School, Centre or Institute School of Geography, Planning & Env Management
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type B.A. Thesis
Total pages 53
Language eng
Subjects 1201 Architecture
Formatted abstract

The architecture, furniture and studies of Atelier Bow-wow have received more acclaim than many other proportionally small Japanese architecture firms. Their work on a basic level appears to build a relationship between people and objects in a fashionable and effective way. One of the first impressions that Atelier Bow-wow’s work captures is that it simply appears to be cute. In spite of that, this aesthetic is not as simple and contemporary as commonly perceived. Interestingly their firm name “Atelier Bow-wow” hints at a longing for a pet or the benefits that they bestow, or perhaps it was influenced by their studies of Tokyo’s ‘dame’ (no good) architecture. Atelier Bow-wow’s popular guidebooks that contain their findings, describe the small yet ingenious buildings that have arisen in the gaps of the urban streetscape. This relatively new breed of building is at a distinctly small scale, not quite human but more on par with a pet, which is congruent with the purpose of pets in our lives, to fill in the gaps and make us feel better. Realising the conceptual potential of “Pet architecture”, Atelier Bow-wow has masterly applied some of these ideas to their building designs. This thesis will discuss and analyse three of their houses that are occasionally described as “cute”. The relatively modern aesthetic of cuteness will be used to launch the analysis. This thesis will also consider this aesthetic discourse and its historical foundations. The imbuing of human character into buildings to forge relationships between people and architecture is an ancient tradition that was solidified by platonic metaphysical theories that provided the base for the broad terms of beauty and harmony. However, understanding what appears to be a simple relationship will need to be reassessed in a contemporary context since this tradition is no longer a common occurrence. Through the use of physiognomy the character of Atelier Bow-wow’s buildings will be uncovered. The combination of these seemingly disparate starting points will provide tools for understanding some of the reasons for the general appeal registered against Atelier Bow-wow’s works.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (non-RHD) - UQ staff and students only
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Created: Tue, 09 Apr 2013, 11:47:36 EST by Mr Yun Xiao on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service