Issue 8
ISSUE
STORY TYPE
AUTHOR
10
PERSPECTIVE
June 17, 2024
We Need More Than Fewer, Better Things
by Deb Chachra
10
PERSPECTIVE
June 3, 2024
An Ode to Garages
by Charlie Weak
10
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
May 28, 2024
In Search of Domestic Kintsugi
by Edwin Heathcote
10
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
May 13, 2024
The Perils of the Landscapes We Make
by Karrie Jacobs
10
PERSPECTIVE
May 6, 2024
Using Simple Tools as a Radical Act of Independence
by Jarrett Fuller
9
PERSPECTIVE
April 29, 2024
Why Can’t I Just Go Home?
by Eva Hagberg
9
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
April 22, 2024
Why Did Our Homes Stop Evolving?
by George Kafka
9
ROUNDTABLE
April 8, 2024
Spaces Where the Body Is a Vital Force
by Tiffany Jow
9
BOOK REVIEW
April 1, 2024
Tracing the Agency of Women as Users and Experts of Architecture
by Mimi Zeiger
9
PERSPECTIVE
March 25, 2024
Are You Sitting in a Non-Place?
by Mzwakhe Ndlovu
9
ROUNDTABLE
March 11, 2024
At Home, Connecting in Place
by Marianela D’Aprile
9
PERSPECTIVE
March 4, 2024
VALIE EXPORT’s Tactical Urbanism
by Alissa Walker
8
PERSPECTIVE
February 26, 2024
What the “Whole Earth Catalog” Taught Me About Building Utopias
by Anjulie Rao
8
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
February 19, 2024
How a Run-Down District in London Became a Model for Neighborhood Revitalization
by Ellen Peirson
8
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
February 12, 2024
In Brooklyn, Housing That Defies the Status Quo
by Gideon Fink Shapiro
8
PERSPECTIVE
February 5, 2024
That “Net-Zero” Home Is Probably Living a Lie
by Fred A. Bernstein
8
PERSPECTIVE
January 22, 2024
The Virtue of Corporate Architecture Firms
by Kate Wagner
8
PERSPECTIVE
January 16, 2024
How Infrastructure Shapes Us
by Deb Chachra
8
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
January 8, 2024
The Defiance of Desire Lines
by Jim Stephenson
7
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
December 18, 2023
This House Is Related to You and to Your Nonhuman Relatives
by Sebastián López Cardozo
7
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
December 11, 2023
What’s the Point of the Plus Pool?
by Ian Volner
7
BOOK REVIEW
December 4, 2023
The Extraordinary Link Between Aerobics and Architecture
by Jarrett Fuller
7
PERSPECTIVE
November 27, 2023
Architecture That Promotes Healing and Fortifies Us for Action
by Kathryn O’Rourke
7
objects and things
November 6, 2023
How to Design for Experience
by Diana Budds
7
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
October 30, 2023
The Meaty Objects at Marta
by Jonathan Griffin
6
OBJECTS AND THINGS
October 23, 2023
How Oliver Grabes Led Braun Back to Its Roots
by Marianela D’Aprile
6
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
October 16, 2023
Can Adaptive Reuse Fuel Equitable Revitalization?
by Clayton Page Aldern
6
PERSPECTIVE
October 9, 2023
What’s the Point of a Tiny Home?
by Mimi Zeiger
6
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
October 2, 2023
A Book Where Torn-Paper Blobs Convey Big Ideas
by Julie Lasky
6
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
September 24, 2023
The Architecture of Doing Nothing
by Edwin Heathcote
6
BOOK REVIEW
September 18, 2023
What the “Liebes Look” Says About Dorothy Liebes
by Debika Ray
6
OBJECTS AND THINGS
September 11, 2023
Roy McMakin’s Overpowering Simplicity
by Eva Hagberg
6
OBJECTS AND THINGS
September 5, 2023
Minimalism’s Specific Objecthood, Interpreted by Designers of Today
by Glenn Adamson
5
ROUNDTABLE
August 28, 2023
How Joan Jonas and Eiko Otake Navigate Transition
by Siobhan Burke
5
OBJECTS AND THINGS
August 21, 2023
The Future-Proofing Work of Design-Brand Archivists
by Adrian Madlener
5
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
August 14, 2023
Can a Church Solve Canada’s Housing Crisis?
by Alex Bozikovic
5
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
August 7, 2023
In Search of Healing, Helen Cammock Confronts the Past
by Jesse Dorris
5
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
July 31, 2023
What Dead Malls, Office Parks, and Big-Box Stores Can Do for Housing
by Ian Volner
5
PERSPECTIVE
July 24, 2023
A Righteous Way to Solve “Wicked” Problems
by Susan Yelavich
5
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
July 17, 2023
Making a Mess, with a Higher Purpose
by Andrew Russeth
5
ROUNDTABLE
July 10, 2023
How to Emerge from a Starchitect’s Shadow
by Cynthia Rosenfeld
4
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
June 26, 2023
There Is No One-Size-Fits-All in Architecture
by Marianela D’Aprile
4
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
June 19, 2023
How Time Shapes Amin Taha’s Unconventionally Handsome Buildings
by George Kafka
4
SHOW AND TELL
June 12, 2023
Seeing and Being Seen in JEB’s Radical Archive of Lesbian Photography
by Svetlana Kitto
4
PERSPECTIVE
June 5, 2023
In Built Environments, Planting Where It Matters Most
by Karrie Jacobs
3
PERSPECTIVE
May 30, 2023
On the Home Front, a Latine Aesthetic’s Ordinary Exuberance
by Anjulie Rao
3
PERSPECTIVE
May 21, 2023
For a Selfie (and Enlightenment), Make a Pilgrimage to Bridge No. 3
by Alexandra Lange
3
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
May 8, 2023
The Building Materials of the Future Might Be Growing in Your Backyard
by Marianna Janowicz
3
BOOK REVIEW
May 1, 2023
Moving Beyond the “Fetishisation of the Forest”
by Edwin Heathcote
2
ROUNDTABLE
April 24, 2023
Is Craft Still Synonymous with the Hand?
by Tiffany Jow
2
OBJECTS AND THINGS
April 17, 2023
A Historian Debunks Myths About Lacemaking, On LaceTok and IRL
by Julie Lasky
2
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
April 10, 2023
How AI Helps Architects Design, and Refine, Their Buildings
by Ian Volner
2
SHOW AND TELL
April 3, 2023
Merging Computer and Loom, a Septuagenarian Artist Weaves Her View of the World
by Francesca Perry
1
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
March 27, 2023
Words That Impede Architecture, According to Reinier de Graaf
by Osman Can Yerebakan
1
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
March 20, 2023
Painting With Plaster, Monica Curiel Finds a Release
by Andrew Russeth
1
PERSPECTIVE
March 13, 2023
Rules and Roles in Life, Love, and Architecture
by Eva Hagberg
1
Roundtable
March 6, 2023
A Design Movement That Pushes Beyond Architecture’s Limitations
by Tiffany Jow
0
THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT
February 7, 2023
To Improve the Future of Public Housing, This Architecture Firm Looks to the Past
by Ian Volner
0
PERSPECTIVE
February 7, 2023
The Radical Potential of “Prime Objects”
by Glenn Adamson
0
SHOW AND TELL
February 20, 2023
Xiyadie’s Queer Cosmos
by Xin Wang
0
CHRONICLES OF CULTURE
February 13, 2023
How Michael J. Love’s Subversive Tap Dancing Steps Forward
by Jesse Dorris
0
SHOW AND TELL
February 7, 2023
Finding Healing and Transformation Through Good Black Art
by Folasade Ologundudu
0
BOOK REVIEW
February 13, 2023
How Stephen Burks “Future-Proofs” Craft
by Francesca Perry
0
ROUNDTABLE
February 27, 2023
Making Use of End Users’ Indispensable Wisdom
by Tiffany Jow
0
OBJECTS AND THINGS
February 7, 2023
The New Lessons Architect Steven Harris Learns from Driving Old Porsches
by Jonathan Schultz
0
PERSPECTIVE
February 7, 2023
The Day Architecture Stopped
by Kate Wagner
0
OBJECTS AND THINGS
February 7, 2023
The Overlooked Potential of Everyday Objects
by Adrian Madlener
0
ROUNDTABLE
February 7, 2023
A Conversation About Generalists, Velocity, and the Source of Innovation
by Tiffany Jow
0
OBJECTS AND THINGS
February 7, 2023
Using a Fungi-Infused Paste, Blast Studio Turns Trash Into Treasure
by Natalia Rachlin
Untapped is published by the design company Henrybuilt.
PERSPECTIVE
11.27.2023
Architecture That Promotes Healing and Fortifies Us for Action

Hiroshima’s Memorial Cathedral for World Peace is fragment and phoenix at once.

black and white aerial image of the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace in 1955
The Memorial Cathedral for World Peace, in 1955. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)


For most visitors, a trip to Hiroshima centers on the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, anchored by the ruins of the Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall at one end, and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum at the other. Designed by a team led by Kenzō Tange beginning in the early 1950s, the park is now home to numerous monuments that honor the roughly 140,000 people who died after the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city nearly eight decades ago. Transfixed visitors to the museum move silently among displays of charred and disfigured fragments of everyday objects and building materials left in the bombing’s wake. They behold the concrete, brick, and steel shell of the hall, built from 1914 to 1915, which was rechristened as the Genbaku Dome, or Atomic Bomb Dome, after the war.

But there is another, much less-visited site, about a mile east of the park, also dedicated to ending war and built to commemorate the dead: the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace, completed in 1954 by Togo Murano, one of Japan’s most inventive 20th-century architects.

Frontal view of present-day Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
The Memorial Cathedral for World Peace. (Photo: Kathryn O’Rourke)


Most immediately striking about the basilica-plan church and its tall belltower is the expressed concrete frame and brick infill on the exterior. In the insistent rectilinearity of the façade, observers have recognized Murano’s absorption of the principles of both traditional Japanese wood-construction techniques and the articulated rationalism of French architect Auguste Perret, one of the first in his field to use reinforced concrete frames expressively. Indeed, during Murano’s formative years and early career, many Japanese architects sought to integrate aspects of Japanese and Western modes of building. But in Hiroshima, this façade means much more.

I visited the cathedral one afternoon this past spring. I had come to study Tange’s work as part of my research on modern architects’ responses to ruins. I quickly discovered that being in the city as a scholar and a U.S. citizen requires a kind of psychological balancing act, as I simultaneously processed architectural evidence in the dispassionate mode of a historian and grappled with feelings of abject sadness and an amorphous sense of culpability connected to the passport I carried.

In Hiroshima, where the world is implored to make peace and where history is measured relative to 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the past and present, the done and the undone, collapse into one another. In this place, everyone is a time traveler. The what-ifs and if-onlys swirl in the mind, intermingling with intimations of the impending and unfolding preventable tragedies of today, from climate change to war. Facing the historic pain of Hiroshima sharpens the pain of the present by disinterring a latent fear that we will fail to muster the will or marshal the resources to forestall mass suffering in the future.

Present-day medium side-view shot of the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
The Memorial Cathedral for World Peace. (Photo: Kathryn O’Rourke)


When Murano designed the cathedral, much of the city lay in ruin, its wood buildings devoured by fires ignited after the detonation. But even close to the bomb’s hypocenter, some structures partially withstood the blast and conflagrations. These were almost uniformly concrete-frame buildings.

In retaining the shell of the Prefectural Industrial Promotional Hall as the foremost landmark of Hiroshima, the city symbolically transfigured the ruin into a kind of material stand-in for the bomb. By the beginning of the 1950s, atomic tourism had begun. Then, as now, visitors came to mourn and to comprehend. But, consciously or not, many also came longing for sensuous contact with the bomb, which the ruin, along with objects in the museum, provides.

Modern-day close-up detail shot of the exterior of the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
Detail of the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace’s exterior. (Photo: Kathryn O’Rourke)


Murano seems to have understood this desire. Yet rather than risk trafficking in a potentially grotesque, fetishistic commemoration, he created an architectonic memorial whose power lies in its materiality, dualism, and associative meanings.

In the Hiroshima of the late 1940s, when Murano began designing the building, brick-filled, concrete frames were the city’s foremost, concurrent symbols of survival and destruction. Murano’s building poignantly summons the ruins, yet also seems somewhat unfinished. On each panel, a few bricks are advanced, as if they have slipped out of place, as some did on the remaining partial walls of the Atomic Dome. Cathedral masons intentionally left the mortar messy in many places, and it appears to drip over the rough gray bricks, which were formed using the ashes of incinerated objects. With the material remains of things the bomb destroyed physically embedded in the walls of the building, the cathedral is fragment and phoenix at once.

Murano’s walls invite us literally to touch and metaphorically to hold absence and presence—death and resurrection—together in our minds, as we perceive them tactilely and visually. To probe the joints (to lay a finger on the side of the building) and behold the ash-infused brick is to come closer to death in Hiroshima, but also to confront pain-laced doubt about whether we can turn back the forces of destruction in our time.

The cathedral challenges us to consider the ethics and dynamics of sensory satisfaction, material allusions to devastation, and architecture’s potential to awaken politically charged empathy. In balancing material roughness with tectonic refinement, and with the associative play of past and yet-to-come implied by the ruined/unfinished dichotomy, the building materializes Hiroshima’s symbolic status as the preeminent inflection point in human history. It is architecture as linking device and cathartic catalyst.

Modern-day interior shot of the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace
Inside the Memorial Cathedral for World Peace. (Photo: Kathryn O’Rourke)


Unlike many modernists, Murano resisted the lure of wholeness, with its implication of totality. His dueling expressions of meticulous craftsmanship and roughness remind us that there are some things that can never be smoothed out. The building’s anti-wholeness manifests further in the disjunction between the façade and interior, with its evocation of Romanesque churches, and in the disquieting mosaic of the Second Coming above the altar. Installed in 1962, this ambivalent Christ presides over the nave, a huge gold beam slicing unsettlingly through the body, as if to blur conventional depictions of divine light with the memory of the blinding flash that accompanied the blast. It is heaven and hell at once.

Amid the human and ecological violence of our time, can material evocations of pain past and present help us create an architecture that promotes healing and fortifies us for action? Murano’s building provokes us to look on the landscapes of the present as ruins and orient our work toward rebuilding, reusing, and resignifying—not for the purpose of forging new utopias, but as an act of contrition rooted in an ethic of reparation and committed to an aesthetic of hope.