Ushida Findlay Partnership

| Kathryn Findlay (*1953) | Eisaku Ushida (*1954)


The Tokyo-based Ushida Findlay Partnership was set up in 1987 by the Japanese architect Eisaku Ushida, graduate of Tokyo University (1976) and the Scottish architect Kathryn Findlay, who trained at the Architectural Association (1979). Both are former associates of Arata Isozaki (between 1976 and 1982). Their architecture is situated at the crossroads between a Bachelardian conception of space, which explores its symbolic, psychoanalytical, not to say "psycho-geographical" components, and a purely scientific and geometric research into form. For Ushida & Findlay, this detour by way of the basic sciences, focusing on the geometry of chaos and non-linear mathematics, is the means of introducing a real independence of the architectural object. It also enables them – via an architecture which bears some resemblance to the formal explorations of Frederick Kiesler ("Endless House"), and Antoni Gaudi, Bruce Goff's organic spaces, André Bloc's sculptures, as well as those designed by Häusermann and Chanéac in the 1960s – to propose a possible synthesis between the subjective desire to free up form and the need to ground it objectively. Architecture, landscape and sculpture open here on to the path which sports new forms of spatiality, run through by recurrent motifs like the Moëbius strip, and the spiral, a model of growth within nature, which retains the internal analogies which at the same time making interior and exterior inseparable. Their organic forms unfold in an interplay of topological twists which galvanize space and stimulate its multisensorial perception (Truss Wall House). Their architecture is the projection, on to a physical space, of the psychological desires of its inhabitants (Soft and Hairy House). It lays claim to the continuity between body and space. Here spatial consciousness and the unconscious have merged in one and the same cognitive field, where there is an interference involving intuition and mathematical modelling. The relationship between the body as space and the mental perception of this space lies at the hub of their architecture. It is the intent of Ushida & Findlay to reactivate this psycho-psychic perception of space by infusing their buildings with forms derived from the movements of the human body. Fluidity, continuity and the unconscious must transform architecture into a materialized subconscious that is not only individualized but also global and cosmic. Intrigued by "the flowing space" (Leon van Schaik), the interiors of their architectures are perceived as "inhabited landscapes", psycho-sensorial landscapes, at one tactile and mental, where the furniture and the light are plastic components. For Ushida & Findlay, the city is also a landscape, just like the continuous surface of a strip or loop, in other words a hybrid matrix of economic, agricultural and industrial implications. Everything takes part in the same flux and continuity : the intuitive and the rational, the solid and the void. Architectural space is polyphonic. ushida findlay
ushida findlay


Truss Wall House
Machida-city, Tokyo, Japon, 1993

ushida findlay

ushida findlay

Truss wall method allows a variety of independent shapes, within the limits of structural integrity of the reinforced concrete. Ushida & Findlay explored these possibilities in the design of this experimental house. The system's plasticity enabled unlimited topological manipulation between solid and void. Thus functional criteria were satisfied by emulating the flow of pliable viscera packed into a vessel and frozen at a moment in order to acquire a balanced fluidity. By replacing the standard architectural parlance, in which elements are "articulated", by this "slimy fluid" Ushida & Findlay intended to attain a deeper layer of architectural language borrowing from the mathematics of topology. The courtyard was laid with balloon tiles, the doors embossed with fractal veins and the entire building was finished in one texture of brush finished mortar, creating a continuous surface inside to out. The essence of the finished building cannot be captured by video or photograph, it needs to be experienced in movement and over time.

ushida findlay ushida findlayushida findlayushida findlay


Soft and Hairy House
Tsukuba-city, Ibaraki, Japon, 1994

ushida findlay
ushida findlay

Intrigued by Salvador Dali's provocative statement about architecture of the future, the clients - a young couple of architectural journalists - had commissioned a "soft and hairy" house from Ushida and Findlay. Covered with a carpet of wild grasses - the same species growing on the surrounding wasteland - the house, which is entwined around its patio, was conceived as an embodiment of the couple : the body of the man and the body of the woman coiled around the body of the child represented by the womblike shape of the bathroom. The house - like a landscape where the familiar and the alien rub shoulders - was programmed entirely on the basis of its psychoanalytical implications. For Ushida and Findlay, this work offered a chance to project a Surrealist line of thinking into architecture. While Minimalism, a predominant architectural trend in Japan, strives to "dematerialize the real", they have attempted here, in the manner of Dali, to "materialize the dream" and construct a "reality" mixing in one and the same space factors that are inside and outside architecture. This new "reality" shows a vague periphery, as if it had been abstracted from the world and the real "real".

ushida findlayushida findlay ushida findlay


House for the Third Millenium
Londres, Grande-Bretagne, 1994

ushida findlay
ushida findlay
ushida findlay

This house is a prototype designed for an exhibition held at the Architecture Foundation in London. Ushida Findlay proposed a house for the future when the network of electronic devices wraps around the globe forming a new layer of "Electronic Gaia". Cities would have been dispelled, dissolving its functions into countryside or computer displays. People would spend their time in a very different way. This house was designed for this type of living and working, located in a rural environment. Dwelling and landscape are fused into one. The roof is a three-dimensional extension, (arising and returning), of the ground plane. The plan is based on a logarithmic spiral and the elevation is based on the sine curve. This method which amalgamates two kinds of geometry into 3 dimensional shapes, has the potential to generate many other new forms. Inside, the house comprises a series of oval pods for the bedrooms, studies, eating areas and bathrooms with, between them, more flexible living areas.


Eisaku Ushida (1954)

1976 – Diplômé de l'Université de Tokyo
1999 – Professeur invité à UCLA, Los Angeles

Kathryn Findlay (1953)

1979 – Diplômée de l'Architectural Association, Londres
1998 – Professeur à l'Université de Tokyo
1999 – Professeur invité à UCLA, Los Angeles
1986 – Création de Ushida Finlay Partnership à Tokyo

Principaux projets et réalisations

1999 – "Homes for the Future - Glasgow 1999" (lauréat) ; "Hopton Street loft residential interior" Thames, Londres
1998 – "Billiard Hall and House" Nagoya ; "Kumamoto Artpolis - Park Management Office" Kumamoto
1997 – "Polyphony House" Osaka ; "Financial Times Millenium Bridge" (concours)
1995 – "Housing Prototype 1" Osaka
1994 – "Soft and Hairy House" Ibaraki Prefecture ; "Kaizankyo" company villa, Wakayama Prefecture ; "Spiral Wall House" Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture ; "NEG Glass" (lauréat) ; "House for the Third Millennium" (projet)
1993 – "Chiaroscuro House" Tokyo ; "Truss Wall House" Tokyo ; "BBC Design Awards" (mentionné)
1991 – "Vertical Horizon" Tokyo (projet)
1990 – "Yokohama Sportsman Club" Kanagawa Prefecture
1989 – "Echo Chamber" Tokyo ; "Park Museum City" (projet)

Expositions récentes

1999 – "Homes for the Future" Glasgow
1998 – "Creator's Legs" Madrid, Valencia, New York, Tokyo

Bibliographie sélective de Eisaku Ushida et Kathrin Findlay

1999 – L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui n°325 ; Domus n°818
1998 – "Ushida Findlay" monographie, 2G n°6, éditions Gustavo Gili, Barcelone (Texte d'Ushida / Findlay : "Genealogy Diagram 1987 /1994 & Matrix 1996")
1996 – "Parallel Landscapes" Gallery MA Books 02, éditions Toto Shuppan, Tokyo (mai)
1993 – "Truss Wall House" édition spéciale, Kenchiku Bunka, Tokyo