The Aesthetic Townscape
Yoshinobu Ashihara, one of Japan's most celebrated architects, develops in this book a cross-cultural perspective on how people actually see and feel urban spaces. His study spans East and West, ranges from traditional villages of Japan; the Italian Apulia, and the Aegean to New York, Chandigarh, and Brasilia.Many of Ashihara's insights grow out of his reconciliation of positive-negative, yin-yang polarities. For example, he considers the demarcations between interior and exterior, private and public spaces in both Japanese and Western architecture and town planning, and the reversal of "figure" and "ground" in Italian piazzas. He also explores the differences between daytime and nighttime scenes, convex and concave shorelines, and the intimate, contained urban spaces associated with Medieval towns (and the outlook of Camillo Sitte) as distinguished from the grand, expansive spaces associated with Baroque cities (and the outlook of Le Corbusier). As might be expected from a writer whose architectural designs are as much concerned with the intimate details as with the broad strokes, Ashihara's theoretical considerations are rooted in actualities that foster practical applications. He introduces an objective measure of various kinds of urban spaces by calculating the ratio of street width and building height, and takes into account the influence of such realities as climate, culture, history, and childhood memories on the shaping of human habitats.The book is extensively illustrated with photographs of the sites discussed - street vistas, urban night scenes, squares, residential neighborhoods, landmark structures - and with maps, plans, and diagrams.