Outside the Box by Edmund Sumner



An exhibition of work by British architectural photographer Edmund Sumner entitled Outside the Box - Images of contemporary Japanese architecture opened this week at the Daiwa Foundation Japan House in London.


Above: Jun Aoki & Associates, G House, Tokyo, 2005, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

The exhibition consists of a selection from 2,500 photographs of contemporary Japanese architecture taken by Sumner over the last 5 years.


Here are some of the photographs included in the exhibition, which is open until 25 July.

Above: Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Towada Art Center, Aomori, 2008, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15


Above: Toyo Ito & Associates Tods Store Tokyo, 2004, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/7

More photography by Edmund Sumner on Dezeen:

Kait Workshop by Junya Ishigami Architects
Gravesend public toilets by Plastik Architects
Boiler Suit by Thomas Heatherwick


Above: Tadao Ando, hh Style Showroom, Tokyo, 2005, Fuji Supergloss


Above: Power Unit Studio, Y House Aichi, 2005, Makoto Yokomizo Edition 1/15

The following information is from the Daiwa Foundation Japan House:


Outside the Box - Images of contemporary Japanese architecture by Edmund Sumner

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation is pleased to announce an exhibition of photographs by Edmund Sumner. During the last five years, this British architectural photographer has taken over 2,500 images of contemporary architecture in Japan. A selection of these photographs will be exhibited for the first time at Daiwa Foundation Japan House.


Above: Tadao Ando 21_21 Design Sight, Tokyo, 2007, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

As a photographer, Sumner has long held an interest in contemporary architecture. The tension involved in capturing an often fleeting moment within a permanent image is the focus of his work and is what has drawn him to the innovative contemporary architecture of Japan.


Above: Kengo Kuma & Associates, Lotus House, Kamakura, 2005, Edition 1/15

The unexpectedness that occurs in Sumner’s work also brings its own delight. The lines created by the criss-crossing of electric wires that run over Tokyo’s skyline, for example, are captured in his photograph of a slick grey façade in a recent building by Tadao Ando. In another photograph, a perfect circle appears as a reflection, a ghost or watermark, in a modern library designed by Toyo Ito.


Above: Kengo Kuma & Associates Ginzan Onsen Fujiya, Yamagata 2007, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

Roland Barthes once wrote that architecture is always dream and function. These images may lack the physical or material reality that function brings to architecture but they offer instead something more meditative and enigmatic. In their dream-like fragments, the familiar is made foreign and the foreign, familiar. The physical boundaries disappear and ownership is temporarily suspended.


Above: Terunobu Fujimori, Yakisugi House Nagano, 2008, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

Sumner’s keen eye, in this sense, convolutes with the desires of another culture (one that is quintessentially foreign to him). And so it is through the eye of an outsider that we see contemporary Japanese architecture reflected in a new light.


Above: Office of Ryue Nishizawa, Towada Art Center, Aomori, 2008, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

Curated by Yuki Sumner

Outside the Box: Images of contemporary Japanese architecture by Edmund Sumner is organised by the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation. It is supported by All Nippon Airways.


Above: Atelier Bow-Wow, Juicy House, Tokyo, 2005, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

A seminar on contemporary Japanese architecture will be organised to coincide with the London Festival of Architecture.


Above: Toyo Ito & Associates, Tama Art University Library, Tokyo, 2007, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/7

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation is a UK charity supporting links between Britain and Japan. Its activities include scholarships, grant giving and an events programme at its headquarters in central London, Daiwa Foundation Japan House.


Above: Atelier Bow-Wow, Gae House, Tokyo, 2004, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

Edmund Sumner (b. 1972, London) specialises in architectural photography and established himself as a freelance photographer in 1995. He has developed a body of work, some of which has been shown in galleries across the UK. His recent solo exhibition, entitled Human Landscape, explored the issues surrounding a human presence in various landscapes. The wide range of interests he displays through photography blurs the boundary between what is considered ‘commercial’ and ‘art’ photography.


Above: Jun Aoki & Associates, G House, Tokyo, 2005, Fuji Supergloss Edition 1/15

Yuki Sumner is a writer on contemporary architecture. After graduating from Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London, Yuki worked for various architects, including David Chipperfield and Caruso St John, where she developed an interest in how architecture is represented in the media. She is currently writing a book on contemporary Japanese architecture.


Above: Atelier Bow-Wow, Gae House, Tokyo, 2004, Fuji Supergloss

2 June – 25 July 2008
Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5.00pm
Admission Free
Late night openings: 19 June & 10 July (until 8.00pm)

Daiwa Foundation Japan House
13/14 Cornwall Terrace, London NW1 4QP
Tel: 020 7486 4348

Posted on Friday June 6th 2008 at 10:00 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • edward

    These random images are nice for casual viewing I suppose, but don't excite me. In this day, static images of spatial compositions, particularly the free-wheeling Japanese home, seem dated and inadequate. Lets have

    3D virtual display of these homes.

  • K. Rimane

    wow. superb!!!

  • Nick

    i think these images do so much more talking than 3d virtual display (or whatever you call it edward) will ever do. There is a clear legibility of conversation between spaces, between body and the built. a convergence of immanence and transcendence. Place is created and recreated, invented and re-invented by the act of being, not by pres-cribing or pre-dicting or pre-visualizing. I’m disappointed at the the adjectives that you have used to describe these images. they are gripping as they are, imagine being in those spaces.

  • roadkill

    Niponic architecture is fantastic… in particular with their desire to minimise everything and is still so well rooted in ancient traditions!

  • edward

    Well Nick, how about the image of the wires? That’s strictly a photographers statement, like the rest more or less. He’s looking at color, form, line, in a composition for its own sake. Fine if you like it. I think it’s yesterdays conception.

  • as i sit and try to light my edwardian pipe
    i contemplate these images.

    first comes to mind the fine living implied bythese images
    adn for this i congratualte the photograhers, architects, styleist and clients.

    I notice that this is far removed from even the normalcy of living environment in even theise intersting house.


    this i bsside the point.

    nice work and i wish i could enjoy them in large format on my prjector.
    no need for rancid 3d ‘experiences” edward.


  • edward

    “no need for rancid 3d ‘experiences” edward.”

    Well for you maybe, content to gaze at a 2 dimensional fragment. Perhaps with the right mixture in your pipe, you might hallucinate the spatial qualities of the structures. I demand more that a photographers notions of composition.

  • Jo


    get help………

  • edward

    I had expected more sophistication for posters on this site.

  • james

    i think in regards to the ‘edge conditions and wire’, the focus is more on the point detail.

    3d images are helpful, it alway interesting to see what someone ‘wanted’ and what actually got built. but i think the photos work just fine for a quick slide show.

  • Will

    I saw these pictures in the flesh at the weekend and I have to say whatever your preferred style of photography, these photos in Fuji Supergloss are phenomenal. If you can go and see them, do so. Massive, clear, bright, interesting – obviously a web page does them little justice. Take the last photo shown here – as with all good photography it really pulls in you when you view it, detail detail detail so cleverly and easily captured in this split-frame format. The architecture is good alone but you still need great work to capture it. I hear your point Edward about 3-D virtual display a la the great work at http://www.panoramas.dk/ but not here – this kind of balanced photography of architecture is wedged deep in Japanese architecture as it should be. Still – an accompanying 3-D image may be an interesting next step?

  • hamedkalantari


  • Would Paintings be more interesting if they were Sculpture Edward? I think your idea of new concept is side stepping as opposed to moving forward.