An ongoing exhibition at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa explores architecture's new creative possibilities by reinterpreting it from dogs' viewpoints and perspectives.
Titled "Architecture for Dogs," the exhibition features 28 works by 13 leading architects and designers, including Kengo Kuma and Kazuyo Sejima. Designer Kenya Hara served as director for the show.
If you assume the exhibits are simply about kennels, you are in for quite a treat.
Particularly surprising was a work for Chihuahuas by Reiser + Umemoto, a pair engaged in architecture designs. Titled "Chihuahua Cloud," orange textile materials cover the head and body of the dog like a dress. Using detailed mesh for the part covering the face, the work is designed to allow a dog to look around.
It looks like a fanciful dress in a fashion show, but the artists maintain the work is intended to be "architecture that travels with the dog." That's a convincing explanation for me.
If you are a dog lover, you'll certainly be moved to tears by Hiroshi Naito's work, "Dog Cooler," a piece made for a Spitz.
Naito had a male Spitz named Pepe, who was always panting from the heat. The work is dedicated to the artist's beloved dog, with whom he spent 16 years.
The work was created by connecting wood with aluminium pipes, a material with high heat conductivity, using rubber, assuming it will help cool down a dog resting on it if ice-packed vinyl bags are put into the pipes, Naito said.
"I thought dogs wouldn't like it if only aluminium was used because it would make it slippery," Naito said. "So I used wooden material in between to give dogs something to cling to with their claws."
It is certainly architecture made with careful consideration of the "client."
Focusing on smell, Torafu Architects created "Wanmock," which is a pun made from the words hammock and wan (Japanese for bark), for Jack Russell terrier.
The work was specially designed for the species, which is known for having an acute sense of smell and sleeps on their owners' clothes for their scent. The simple design - made by covering a wooden frame with old clothing - makes the work particularly impressive. During production, the creators looked at photographs of Bouillon, copywriter Shigesato Itoi's dog, to get ideas. This interesting background makes us feel the creators' sincere wish to create a work not only based on what they wanted, but on what might make a dog happy.
A work by Toyoo Ito, which he created for his Shiba dog Momo, looks like a buggy. The artist said he decided on the design out of a desire to create "mobile architecture that helps his beloved dog get around even in old age."
Looking at the variety of works on display, it's clear that creators did not regard their works simply as "kennels." They all seem to prove that a pleasant space for dogs can be a pleasant space for human beings, too.
This well-conceived show will certainly entertain both dog and architecture lovers.
"Architecture for Dogs" will run through May 10 at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kana-zawa in Kanazawa. Closed on Mondays and on May 7. Admission is free. Blueprints of the artwork on display can be downloaded from the following site for those wishing to build the works themselves: architecturefordogs.com