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Architecture Zen: A Place for the Way

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Title:Architecture Zen: A Place for the Way
Authors:Hodge, Michael
Contributors:Leineweber, Spencer (advisor)
Architecture (department)
Date Issued:May 2010
Abstract:This DArch project investigates the impact of Zen on architecture. The project begins with a brief history of Zen and its relationship to the arts. Zen art is distinct in that it captures something much more than technical skill and much deeper than artistic creativity. Zen calligraphy is literally, “writing Zen with a brush.”1 The renown Zen Master Omori Sogen refers to the heart of Zen being, “[T]o wake up and see things, just the way they are, in the here and now.”2 Zen art is a clear demonstration of this experience and the result is palpable and well documented. The core of Zen training is the transcendence of duality and teahouses are traditionally the clearest venue for this practice. Woven throughout my research about the Way of Tea and Zen is a narrative about my own design for a Zen teahouse. Located on the grounds of the Spring Green Dojo, a Zen temple whose lineage traces back to Hawaii and Japan, this process of designing a teahouse provides a window into the highly personal world of Zen training. This paper documents the physical, mental, and metaphysical aspects of Zen practice as well as the design process for the building. Designing a Zen building is as much a process of designing a Zen body and building a Zen building is a process of building a Zen body. The common link between these elements is my body and mind and my own struggle to resolve dualities in the world and in my understanding of architecture. The influence of Zen on the arts and specifically the characteristics outlined by the philosopher and educator Shin’ichi Hisamatsu provides the criteria to judge my design work. My Zen training offers a chance to connect physical training to design and the project outlines ways in which Zen training can more broadly benefit architecture, architects and architecture students. The project concludes by correcting the misconception that architectural products are the manifestation of Zen architecture. Architecture becomes just one of many ways in which Zen can impact a creative process. Whereas the project started with a goal to discover architecture that captured the Zen spirit, the project ends with the assertion that the term “architecture Zen” is a more useful way to describe architecture that emerges from a Zen life. 1 Sogen, Omori and Terayama Katsujo translated by John Stevens. “Zen and the Art of Calligraphy: The Essence of Sho.” Arkana: London, 1990. Preface. 2 Sogen, Omori and Terayama Katsujo translated by John Stevens. “Zen and the Art of Calligraphy: The Essence of Sho.” Arkana: London, 1990. Preface.
Pages/Duration:112 pages
Appears in Collections: D.ARCH. - Architecture

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