Temporary, resilient, and versatile in nature! These are buildings that last for a short period. Buildings that are passengers. In the last few decades, Ephemeral Architecture has brought about new ideas for public space, congregation, and celebration. It has redefined the margins that mark an urban context. Ephemeral is an addition to the list of building typologies, that reintroduces time, space, and material. It is a tool for the creation of an informal visual dialogue with the static city around. Starting from mere exhibition pavilions, Ephemeral Architecture has made its way to residential settlements and commercial outlets. A pop-up physical infrastructure intended to leave a very little mark on the planet. 

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Irori Pavilion by Kengo Kuma ©www.weburbanist.com

Japan and Ephemeral Architecture

European idea of an ideal city revolves around durable and rigid architecture. Contrary to this is Japanese cities, accepting of rapid change, cyclic renewal, and vitality in structures. Here cities are sensitive to time and possess a general perspective towards Ephemeral Architecture. The world obsession for permanence and monumentality comes to an end here. Ephemeral to Japan is ‘an idea that mediates between desired permanence and the obligatory change.’ The philosophical notion of constant change and interchanging constants is deep-rooted in the Japanese minds and hence Japanese architecture. The contemporary architects of the 21st century, are reinterpreting the beliefs alongside modern technology and are keeping alive the native architectural style.  

Together with the cultural concepts, the secular notions of transparency, lightness, and nature are harnessed today through Ephemeral Architecture. Reduced load on the planet, economically provident and adaptive to the changing needs of the users. It could be said that Ephemeral is halfway between the urban neighborhood and nature. The adoption of the Ephemeral idea is the creation of an elastic atmosphere amidst the rigid urban territory. 

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S-House by Yuusuke Karasawa Architects ©www.archdaily.com
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Ephemeral House by NAAD ©www.archdaily.com

Wabi-sabi

Incomplete, imperfect, and impermanent! Wabi-sabi is a state of finding sacredness in the minor. A philosophy that originates from the traditional Japanese aesthetics, that is profound but wordless. The basic idea is to acknowledge that the true charm of nature lies in ‘Mujo’ (impermanence). Ephemeral Architecture is a visual art that exhibits the beauty of impermanence and imperfection. The true understanding of Ephemeral and its appreciation is only through experiencing its true assets. Participation of the observer is held important. A mind that is open to flaws, and a mind that can complete the incomplete is truly able to discover the essence possessed in the temporarily built enclosures.

Japan is one of the rare places that possess delicacy towards time. The experiences here are acute and consistent. The flexibility that is offered by the Japanese society has resulted in the extraordinary approach of architects and outstanding design solutions. Experiments that initiate from a point where nothing is left, are now solving community issues. However, the temporal mindset is not universal. The changing cultures either put it out of possibilities or political reasons keep it out of priorities. Ephemeral Architecture today seeks awareness and a step out of the concrete beliefs. 

Ephemeral and Identities

Various assets that are inhibited by Ephemeral Architecture mark their favour for different end goals. The transitional quality reflects the nomadic way of living amidst the contemporary western world. Nomadic Ephemeral provides a transition between the built forms and open landscapes. 

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Traditional Ephemeral has been a host to community gatherings and religious meets since the beginning of human settlements. It continues to house events adhering to the modern developed technologies and tailoring itself by understanding future citizens. 

Architecture that could be dismantled and reassembled has termed a new typology of Obsolescent Ephemeral. Leaving a memory behind, here the components are re-absorbed and the resources are returned to the society. 

Another quality that these structures possess is of Emergency Ephemeral. For calamities that are natural or human raised. Relief camps and temporary shelters all fall under this column. Japan has been a close observer and beneficiary of the different forms of Ephemeral Architecture through the decades. From nomads to celebrations, and from exhibitions and transit homes to disaster management. Structures that are built with durability in mind, and also a clear understanding of not lasting forever. These are short existing, yet aim for sustainability. 

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Residential Ephemeral ©www.newstatesman.com
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Lucky Drops by Atelier Tekuto ©www.archdaily.com

Inside Outside

With the rise in speed and acceleration in the construction industry Ephemeral Architecture has made its place in the virtues of Japanese Architecture. Through Ephemeral, the temporality in nature is connected to the interiors. This blurs the static living conditions created by the digital influence. People in Japan prefer a property that loses its value with passing years and a house that the owner is unable to sell. These ethics could be found at no place other. The acceptance of the ageing property of Ephemeral Architecture and the effortless simplistic beauty it offers makes Japan a land of modest and exceptional architecture.

Creating a softer urban system, extending the green borders, and permeating the essence of local beliefs, is Ephemeral Architecture all about.  

Author

Compulsive speaker and an attentive ear to the other side of the story. She believes in the power of architecture and stars.

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Rethinking The Future Awards 2022