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Noguchi Room Workshop 2014 – experiencing the Ex-Noguchi Room

Noguchi Room Workshop 2014 - experiencing the Ex-Noguchi Room
© Keio University

In this Step, we look at the Noguchi Room Workshop 2014 connected with Introduction to Archives XII: Noguchi Room Revisited, an event held at the Art Center in 2015. This workshop used three class periods to familiarize students with the Ex-Noguchi Room, an artistic resource on the campus they attend, and have them record their experiences. Here we look at the tasks the students were assigned, and how they reacted to the architectural space.

Noguchi Room Revisited exhibition

The Noguchi Room Revisited exhibition focused on creation of the Noguchi Room. Yoshiro Taniguchi developed an overall concept for the campus’ appearance, and emphasized interrelationships between buildings, including relationships with existing architecture. For this exhibition, we searched out and displayed drawings of the Noguchi Room, photos/documents showing its original form, and drawings, photos, and documents of all the architecture of Yoshiro Taniguchi which existed on the Mita Campus. This was also a product of the Architecture of Keio project organized by the Art Center. Workshops were provided for students in their university classes, based on this exhibition.

Display Display at the Noguchi Room Revisited exhibition (Photo: Katsura Muramatsu (Calo Works, Co., Ltd.))

Workshop concept

At present, there are limited opportunities for students to visit the Ex-Noguchi Room. Therefore, the objective was to make time for students to learn about the room— an artistic resource on the campus where they study. We wanted them to spend some time in the space and think about it. At the workshop, we first presented a slide lecture describing the creation of the Ex-Noguchi Room. Then we moved to the room, and everyone shared their first impressions and observations. To ensure students entering the Ex-Noguchi Room would take in the architectural space with heightened awareness, we decided on the following tasks, and asked the students to divide into groups and carry them out.

  1. Choose four things you think are a chair, table, fireplace, and partition, and give them each a title (name).
  2. Propose methods of experiencing the Noguchi Room by using your body.
  3. Take a nice photo featuring the interior (inside) and garden (outside) of the room.

Group 1 considered the idea and role of each item, and put their impressions into words. By asking them what they think is a chair, table, fireplace, or partition, we expected them to not only come up with a name, but also to look closely at each item, exercise their imaginations, and discover new functions of things.

Group 2 considered relationships between people’s bodies and the space. The floor and spiral staircase still remain in their original form, but the ceiling, second floor, walls, and other elements have been removed, and white semi-transparent curtains have been installed. By having students direct their attention to the old and new elements making up the space, and use their bodies, we expected them to take in the space from a dynamic perspective.  

Group 3 demarcated the space by paying close attention to the inside and outside of the Ex-Noguchi Room. Taniguchi and Noguchi designed the Noguchi Room with an overall awareness of the environment, including the garden and surrounding environment, and continuity between the inside and outside. Elements like positional relationships and the way light enters the room have dramatically changed, and we expected students to demarcate the current Ex-Noguchi Room from various perspectives.

workshop Scenes of the Noguchi Room Revisited workshop © Keio University Art Center

Presentations and sharing

Thoughts and ideas that arose in the above tasks were recorded in detail on a worksheet, and later shared with the whole class during presentation time. One group named Noguchi’s partition “Spring” due to the image of young bamboo growing straight upward in the spring. Another group noticed that the indoor space used diverse materials and curves, and had one person dribble a ball on the floor, while another read aloud. They walked around every part of the interior, expressing its characteristics with movement and the resonation of sound. A wealth of fresh perspectives were produced in this way. Many students said their impressions of the space changed between their first impression and after the assigned tasks, and when they looked at the space from the perspectives of other students, they were able to see it differently.

In this workshop, students verbalized their impressions by attaching titles to pieces, and apprehended the architectural space, both visually and tactilely, by moving their bodies and capturing it in photographs. Through these tasks, they definitely perceived the ingenuity of the concepts and spatial designs which Taniguchi and Noguchi incorporated into every part of the space. The original Ex-Noguchi Room has been lost, but this opportunity for students and faculty to learn the background of the room, and treasure its remaining artistic resources, is an important opportunity for raising awareness of architecture, and the cultural properties around us.

workshop workshop Scenes of the Noguchi Room Revisited workshop © Keio University Art Center

References

  • “Introduction to Archives XII: Noguchi Room Revisited” (exhibition leaflet), Keio University Art Center, March 2, 2015
© Keio University
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Invitation to Ex-Noguchi Room: Preservation and Utilization of Cultural Properties in Universities

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