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The work of Atelier Bow-Wow has always been to try to capture contemporary behaviors in the process of formation, anticipating emerging realities in the city and then translating them into forms and programs. Their work speaks to an openness towards languages that have not been tested and for which acceptance by the architectural community is not guaranteed. And yet they seem to be willing to take the risk of experimenting because they are trying to engage with new forces in society. Such an attitude requires a sensitivity able to see trends that are not yet consolidated and an adventurous spirit that is eager to question established and conventional forms so long as they reconnect to current social and urban phenomena. They are not interested in merely producing neat, elegant forms that follow the conventional criteria of beauty in contemporary Japanese architecture; they prefer to recognize and work with the multiple forces and restrictions that inevitably shape the form of the built environment. They would rather keep their eyes open and risk producing awkward, less familiar forms than ignore context with a beautiful but insensitive building. Such has been the case of objects that looked to new forms of living in the streets of Tokyo or houses testing building regulations to their limits, resulting in unexpected shapes that explore new forms of urban life.
Their adventurous spirit is what may have led them to work in the woodlands of Kurimoto, a rural region on the outskirts of Tokyo, which has been heavily affected by the decline of the forestry and timber industry, leaving behind a frail, overexploited landscape and depleted communities. Working with a local NGO, Atelier Bow-Wow proposes a firewood supply plant that simultaneously repairs the damaged woodlands and provides a safe workplace for elderly and disabled urban citizens, helping them reconnect with nature. Instead of offering charity or aid, Bow-Wow carefully studies the social and economic context, relentlessly seeking to turn problems into opportunities. Their work is like a finely tuned instrument that registers subtle changes in the social fabric.

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  • Title: THE TIMBER NETWORK
  • Creator: ATELIER BOW-WOW
  • Rights: Photo by Andrea Avezzù; Courtesy: la Biennale di Venezia, With the support of Japan Foundation

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