January 10, 2007
Coming to a gallery near you: Homeless architecture
Sketch by Kyohei Sakaguchi
March 21, 2006
By Hiroko Tabuchi
Like many Zen-inspired structures, Okawara's hut is a monument to simplicity. The size of a large tool shed, the wooden building blends seamlessly with the surrounding park. His door opens to a full view of Tokyo's Tama River.
Okawara is not your typical architect: He's homeless. But the elegant austerity of his hut and thousands of others like it has turned the country's destitute into unwitting purveyors of an emerging art form that's catching the eye of international connoisseurs.
The dwellings -- carefully built, meticulously kept and collapsible for quick movement when police move in -- have inspired a rash of art books, and Japanese promoters are discussing them with curators in North America and Europe.
"These homes embody simplicity and functionality and are at one with their environment, like the tea house of Sen Rikyu," said architect Kyohei Sakaguchi -- author of a study of homeless architecture titled "Zero Yen Houses" -- referring to a 16th-century tea master who preached frugality through the art of tea ceremony.
Read the rest of the article on The Japan Times homepage (registration required)
Kyohei is running a workshop and exhibit at the World Social Forum 2007 in Nairobi, Kenya, till Jan. 28.
>>See Kyohei Sakaguchi's Web site>>