“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”
― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
Haruki Murakami’s inspiration to write came as an instantaneous thought!
In 1978, when he visited the Jingu Stadium to watch a baseball game he instantaneously had an urge to write a novel, and well he just did. And thus began a journey which was one of its kind. Born on January 12, 1949, in Kyoto, Japan, Murakami grew up in Kobe where he attended Waseda University. His interests in jazz music led him to start his jazz bar which he ran for almost seven years. His first novel Hear the wind sing won the Gunzou Literature Prize for Budding writers in 1979. He has also authored many other novels like Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, Sputnik Sweetheart, After Dark, South of the Border, West of the sun, The wind-up Bird Chronicle, etc. Along with it, he has written several short story collections like After the quake, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. He’s also written an illustrated novella The Strange Library. In his long list of writings, he’s also had a considerable share in the non-fiction genre with works like Underground which includes interviews of the Honsin earthquake and the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack (1995) survivor victims. His works are largely read all over the globe, they are translated in almost fifty-five languages. Murakami is considered as one of the most relevant writers of the 21st century.
Murakami has a way with his words, they have the ability to awestruck a reader. The stories are unique and yet have a set of predictability to it and the narrative is where the heart is. Murakami has the power to turn a simple story into an eccentric and immersive reading. All the stories have a sense of uniformity in the aspect of the elements used, the color red, cats, the complex architectural narration of spaces, etc. are some of them. This minimalistic writer has a way in approaching the complexity of a storyline by making it look like a cakewalk until the reader reaches the very end either intrigued or completely lost, there’s no in-between.
So what would a personality like Haruki Murakami be as an Architect? How would he design spaces?
Murakami’s writings are primarily intriguing due to his description of spaces, his written architecture thus forms as a foundation of the entire plot. This written architecture done skilfully acts as a self-explanatory narrative for the reader. He often describes the emotions in a particular scenario by making the written architecture around it to define the protagonist’s psychology. For example, he often uses long corridors that are unidirectional to define a sense of claustrophobia felt by the character. His interpretation of what a character feels is often described through the architecture that surrounds him/her and the emotions evoked by the spaces around him/her. If Murakami were to be an architect in real life, his works would majorly be centric around what the user envisions the end product to be. They would often be minimalistic spaces that evoke a strong sense of meaning. He uses scale as a tool to describe the impact of a certain scene. If Murakami were to design, the scale would be a major defining system for the reader.
Another aspect would be his ideology of attaching magical realism that gives a sense of mystery and a fantastic quality of reality. If these ideas were to be interpreted as spaces, the designs would involve unidirectional minimalistic spaces that make users travel through a path to reach a certain destination within a confined boundary.
His writing influences are mainly from postmodern films, literature, and pop culture. As an architect, he would have major influences from architects belonging to a similar era like Le Corbusier, Robert Venturi, Michael Graves, Philip Johnson, etc. Although his influences go back decades, his writings hold strong relevance to the current times as well.
His style of written architecture is purely eccentric with a complex entanglement of architectural spaces as a vital part of a narrative. They consist of impossible dimensions which sometimes or rather every time can be hard to visualize and curate. These types of qualities have huge relevance to the works of Zaha Hadid in the architectural field. Her works are a clear definition of eccentrics, they intrigue a user, they are complex and are thought-provoking. Just like the writer’s vision of written architecture they too challenge the socially acceptable ways of design. Each design has its unique style of forming an envelope to justify its purpose.
Another architect who has a similar thought process like Murakami would be Tadao Ando. Although Ando has a way of designing which is no closer to what Zaha Hadid has done, it is similar to Murakami in the background of how minimalism is expressed by both these visionaries. Another similar trait would be the usage of materials and scale, Ando uses one to two consistent materials which are minimal yet impactful, along with this he uses scale as a tool to awestruck a user. The written architecture of Haruki Murakami functions in similar lines.
Although Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando have several dissimilarities in their architectural interpretation of spaces, Haruki Murakami seems to have a bit of both. Murakami as an architect would do an exceptional job in designing spaces that are mainly related to institutional or cultural purposes such as churches, temples, crematoriums, museums, memorials, etc.
All in all, this writer can never be defined in mere words, as his words speak volumes!