In this talk, Austin-based architect Larry Speck reveals how architectural creativity was oftentimes born from constraints. From wood scarcity, hot summers, and harsh winters blossomed the elegant, minimalistic themes of 18th century Japan. Hear about how the Japanese dealt with building regulations and adapted to the world around them to produce some of the world’s most cherished structures.
So I do believe that these periods in history that have been made the most fertile and where real fundamental advances occurred, not just — sometimes as a kind of fluffy creativity that’s kind of narcissistic, but this is real advances in culture and advances that make a difference in the world.
And often they come from a kind of real acknowledgement, and embracing of constraints. And in this period in Tokugawa, Japan, they’d had flat population, and suddenly, they got their political problems worked out. They stopped warring with each other, and there was a period of real peace and prosperity.
But with that peace and prosperity came growth. They had population growth, and they were more fluid, they started consuming more.
And scarcity began to be an issue. They were a closed society, they didn’t have import or export, so they were having to live within the constraints of their island culture there.
So in that period, amazing things happened. And they happened at an environmental and technological level of innovation, but also at a social and cultural level of innovation.
And all of those were stimulated by action and acknowledgement of constraints. In the beginning of that period, after they got peace and prosperity, they started building like crazy. They are a forested country, they had tons and tons of wood, and they didn’t really build any different than they had before.