Episode 02: KASA (Kovaleva and Sato Architects)
Open Mic / Work & Social Distancing
KASA (Kovaleva and Sato Architects) is a young Russian/Japanese architecture office based in Moscow and Tokyo, founded by Aleksandra Kovaleva and Kei Sato. The studio was selected out of an open call launched by the Russian Federation pavilion a few months ago.
“We’re in Tokyo today, in our home atelier. It has a big window, facing the botanical garden. It’s a very bright space, filled with natural light, shades and wind. It looks like we’re on the terrace, not inside. We started working here about a year ago, after we opened our office. In reality, at the beginning, it was a challenge to switch from office work to housework, to find the right routines and rituals, to balance work and rest. Nevertheless, we realize that the surroundings of our workplace, the view from the window, the sense of each season, have influenced our emotions, created our daily atmosphere in a different way, and actually helped us to adapt.
We recall this memory right now, when many people have to work at home, and the outdoor environment is also becoming very important. It seems that the space of the house, from the defined boundaries of the interior, has slowly extended to the outside. We see a lot of people enjoying the view from their homes, spending time on their balconies or gardens. Initially, when the Japanese government closed down schools and public buildings, the parks and streets were filled with children and parents, and surprisingly the city seemed to be regenerating. We were amazed by how people want to avoid staying in the closed interior spaces and use the outside of their homes as one of their rooms. This made us realize that the role of the architect nowadays should be to consider the exterior and the interior equally. For our current project, the renovation of the Russian pavilion, we have proposed to regenerate the building not only through the interior, but also to rethink its relationship with the surrounding garden, the lagoon and the city. We find it fascinating to find a way to combine natural and historical environments. We’d like to challenge and come to a gentle architecture that can be the cornerstone to the next generation. This softness, which we also include in the project of the Russian pavilion, often relies on the personal feelings people experience in certain situations they face. Regardless of the level, we think it is important to extend the attention, from the individual to the global, and to take care of others. Now is the moment where, through personal actions, community initiatives, multicultural collaborations, we may potentially find ways to address complex problems in order to find the right steps.
On the scale of the working environment, some of our collaborators have switched to home-work and, of course, this has become a new way of working. I think the hardest thing for us is not being able to connect with a team through physical models, as it’s the simplest way to communicate about design, regardless of language problems. It has also been challenging to limit the possibilities of travel to the sites of the projects, which are absolutely essential for architects. The actual site visit, the thoughts you get from it, the information you discover, all have a different level of detail that we need for a design. However, in the present situation, we have the ability to think carefully and encourage ourselves for a different way of working, communicating and creating. That might be quite unknown, because this transition happened so quickly, but at the same moment it is intriguing.”