Presented by Gallery MA, Japan’s most important architecture gallery, this exhibition was conceived around the theme of the number “twenty”.
Twenty is a special number for KDa. Not only is it their twentieth year in Japan, the 20 slides and 20 seconds format of PechaKucha Night has taken it around the world, and it is also the number of years between the rebuilding of the shrine at Ise. Most importantly, it represents ‘seijinshiki’ or ‘coming of age’ in Japan.
The exhibition occupied all of Gallery MA’s two floors and courtyard. The key to KDa’s design for the exhibition is their fascination with the things they find around them in Tokyo; materials, objects, and ideas that are often invisible to the Japanese.
The lower gallery is filled with the mobile ‘kanban’ signs found in the streets outside most of Tokyo’s bars. Topped with flashing lights and a big ‘this way’ arrow, the signs display back-lit photographs of KDa’s projects.
These signs have also been used in the courtyard adjacent to the gallery, blurring the distinction between inside and outside and making the gallery space feel bigger. Here, one ‘kanban’ sign has been placed on top of a wall enclosing the courtyard – visible from the street below, it announces, “Klein Dytham, in here!”
In one fell swoop, sidewalk-quality back-lit signs solve the problem of how to continue the display out into the courtyard, as well as how to light the exhibition in the evening!
Most exhibitors fill the upstairs gallery with models- instead, KDa employed a 3D-printing technique usually used by the makers of inexpensive crystal souvenirs found at local tourist hotspots such as Tokyo Tower. Once again, showing KDa’s inspiration in exploring a vernacular invisible to most.
KDa took the largest crystal blocks that the manufacturer could deal with (12cm by 12cm), and had twenty of their projects modelled using the technique. The laser-produced models display incredible detail, and have a remarkable visual quality: when viewed from the side the models reveal perfect elevations; viewed from above they reveal the plan; and from any other angle they present X-ray views of and through whole buildings.
Displayed in a black painted room, the models are not static – lit from below, each is displayed on a slowly rotating turntable.
The models stand on four L-shaped walls that each form the back of a comfortable seat covered in black shag-pile carpet. Here, i-Pod Touches are available on which visitors can listen to a recent lecture by Astrid and Mark and scan through a library of photos of KDa projects.