Osaka Folly (1990)

The Folly, a building type whose authenticity is based on experiential affect (and explicitly not on functional efficiency) was taken up by Arata Isozaki as General Producer of the 1990 International Garden and Greenery Exposition. Many of those invited to design a folly at expo path crossings came from the inner circle of Alvin Boyarsky’s AA: Zaha Hadid, BOLLES+WILSON, Macdonald & Salter, Cook & Hawley, Gigantes & Zenghelis, a folly network that extended to Daniel Libeskind, Morphosis, Co-op Himmelblau, Andrea Branzi,  Lapena & Torres a well as the two Japanese – Hajeme Yatuska and Royji Suzuki.

At the official opening Isozaki described the BOLLES+WILSON pavilion as ’shapes we have not seen before‘. The pavilion, promoting Otsu City, was an assembly of three components hovering above a rectangular pool. These were evolved as transformations from a submarine typology. The metal panels of the salon are projected up from an archetypal submarine plan, an unfolded skin. A free-standing white-sail-facade delves even further back into vessel mythologies. On to this sail fall shadows of the Water Machine – a ribcage of steel and plastic pipes which dripping profusely and aided by a fan mounted in the Salon window dispensed a cloud of coolness in the hot Osaka summer. This Folly was an ‚atmosphere-machine‘ – a building sized air conditioner – engaging its audience in its micro-climate.

The Osaka Folly has a special place in the BOLLES+WILSON oeuvre. Its theme relates back to Peter Wilson’s 1976 Water House, its constructor Inoue Industries also built in Tokyo the 1993 Suzuki House (in fact the Suzuki house originated from a conversation on the Folly building site). The folly’s conceptual theme and fragmented composition are close to the Ninja House-Electronic Shadow that won First Prize in the 1988 Japan Architect (Shinkenchiku) Competition. 1988 was also the year of  B+W’s  Blackburn House in London. These are all projects to be found in the 1989 AA publication ‚Western Objects Eastern Fields‘ on the cover of which is our first ever digital drawing – the Osaka Folly.

Copyrights: © Hélène Binet (Pictures 1–2 ), © Koji Kobayashi (Pictures 3–7 ), © BOLLES+WILSON (plans 8–13)

© Hélène Binet
© Hélène Binet
© Koji Kobayashi
© Koji Kobayashi
© Koji Kobayashi
© Koji Kobayashi
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