The Art Of Urban Density

It’s one of the things I find visually most fascinating about Japan – planning laws allow a staggering diversity of building styles to coexist in urban areas, architects are given extreme latitude to design unique structures and use uncommon materials. It’s a delight to cast one’s eyes over urban landscapes with their unexpected features, and contemplate. There’s a playfulness there which generally doesn’t exist in cities with uniformly styled architecture.


More than anything though, it’s the sheer number of buildings I find most stunning. Not only the larger cities but even smaller towns in Japan have an incredible density of buildings.

Here are 2 artists, not yet well-known outside Japan, in whose work this subject matter features strongly.

Terada Toshiyuki (寺田 敏行), painter

On a purely visual level Terada’s style evokes both Hundertwasser and Klee along with a distinctive edge of humour. I recently attended his Ginza exhibition. On display were recent paintings which more than any I can recall capture the Japanese architectural density of which I speak, and traversing the cityscapes in Terada’s work was captivating.

(click the images to enlarge)




A little more here…

Sato Shintaro, photographer

Sato Shintaro climbs stairwells and fire escapes of buildings in the twilight hours to take his large-format images which contain both distant lights on the horizon and small features of his immediate surroundings. Captures the essence of Tokyo evenings and that almost endless suburban sprawl unlike any other photographer I’ve yet seen.

(click the images to enlarge)



Sato’s homepage can be found here, and contains a large number of such works.

His 2008 book, Tokyo Twilight Zone is available at Amazon.

~ by JapanGasm on 1 June, 2010.

3 Responses to “The Art Of Urban Density”

  1. that is just amazing and the photography is beautiful!

  2. […] such as Terada Toshiyuki capture a sense of playful engagement with the shapes and patterns and forms of the city, while […]

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