Hitoshi Abe (January 31, 2007)

Eric Owen Moss describes Hitoshi Abe as a poet and an urbanist. Abe is a SCI-Arc graduate who, as newly-appointed professor and chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, Moss characterized as a participant in the “Los Angeles Architecture Revolution, the L.A. Revolt.”

Hitoshi Abe declares that he seeks architecture that functions as an interface between human and environment, much like a skateboard for a skateboarder. Abe discusses his idea of form, which is not bound by symbolic meaning, but is responsive to its environment. He highlights his concept of form with a project for a bridge handrail, which graced the bridge with symbolism without referring to any specific iconography.

For Abe, building typologies are a starting point but not an ending point. Abe discusses how he fused landscape and architecture in the stadium he designed for the 2002 World Cup in Japan. He also presents mixes typologies with hybrid designs for private and public use.

Abe discusses the body as an interface that directly engages the environment. He illustrates this with an installation he created with the office of Spanish architects Mansilla + Tu??n. An object was embedded with bone-conductor speakers that are audible when the head is placed in contact with the speaker. The object shape encouraged the user to hug the object in oder to hear the sounds, hence using the body as a direct interface to engage the environment.

Abe refers to spaces that are completely separated from their environments as submarines, and according to Abe “many famous Japanese architects are very good at creating submarines.” Abe strives for the appropriate median between the submarine and a utopian Garden of Eden. He refers to this median as a soft boundary which “mediate adjacent conditions according to the situation.”