Proportional Perfection

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The Gepparo tea pavilion in the Katsura Imperial Villa, photo © Raphael Azevedo Franca

In the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote, author of The Meaning of Home, explores the relationship between Japan’s Katsura Imperial Villa and Rudolf Schindler’s Kings Road House in Los Angeles:

“Separated by about four centuries and the Pacific Ocean this pair of houses may seem on paper to have little in common. One was an imperial villa in Kyoto, the other a suburban villa in West Hollywood. One is built on Zen principles for the Japanese emperor, the other was built by a central European architect for himself.”

Schindler’s Kings Road House, drawing © of the Historical American Building Survey

Yet these two houses, so far apart in time and space, are among those that most influenced the modern movement. The Katsura Imperial Villa – or perhaps more properly, palace – is a beautiful but modest building of timber, paper and pitched roofs set in a carefully contrived garden of exquisite beauty. It is extraordinary to compare it with, for example Versailles, which was being built around the same time in France. While the French palace is dripping with gold and rococo curlicues, its Japanese counterpart is stripped back to the bare bones.

“The building’s harmony comes from its proportional perfection . . . .” Read more . . .


Edwin Heathcote

Edwin Heathcote is the Architecture and Design Critic of The Financial Times. He is the author of over a dozen books on architecture and design and is a founder of the hardware manufacturer ize.

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