Barrie also presents a list of key phrases for understanding the Western city/Japanese city dichotomy:

  • patchwork (against network)
  • horizontal (more than vertical)
  • piecemeal (versus integrated)
  • decentralized (rather than centralized)
  • shifting and cloud-like order (rather than fixed and clock-like)
  • temporary (versus permanent or even eternal)
  • flexible (more than fixed)
  • content (against physical context)
  • vague (as opposed to clear) boundaries between object (building or city) and surroundings
  • areal (over linear and sequential) organization
  • fragmentation (over integration)
  • disconnection (over connection)
  • transformation and metamorphosis (over the static or unchangeable)
  • autonomy (over interdependence) of parts
  • attention to details and fragments before wholes (more than wholes before parts)
  • the flexible and indefinite (over the fixed and finite)
  • superimposition and co-existence of unlike parts (over compromise and integration)

Kansugibashi - Hiroshige (1857) According to Barrie, this print helps summarize how the urban space is traditionally conceived in Japan: fragmented, complex, with a multitude of activities taking place. The framing, Barrie asserts, is also deliberately ambiguous, avoiding any one central subject

AuthorChris Hamby