Raw Beauty: Celebrating the Serenity of Exposed Concrete Through Instagram

Pat Finn Pat Finn

Popular Instagrammer Koyuki (@koyoox) is drawn to clean, functional lines and surfaces. The Tokyo-based graphic designer’s photographs feature both natural and built spaces, but there is a congruency between the two. That is, the built environments featured in her photos are rational, calm and follow design principles that are anything but arbitrary or ornamental.

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They “take after nature,” or at least after the vision of nature depicted in her photos, which is one of serenity and contemplation. One is reminded of a statement by Tadao Ando: “I don’t believe architecture has to speak too much. It should remain silent and let nature in the guise of sunlight and wind.”

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In the spirit of Ando, one of Koyuki’s favorite materials to photograph is exposed concrete, which is often viewed as a highly prosaic building material. Sturdy, economical and gray, concrete stands as a symbol of disenchantment for many people. When someone calls New York City a “concrete jungle,” it is rarely meant as a compliment.

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However, many architects see things differently. For someone like Le Corbusier, concrete’s ubiquity in urban spaces was not something to be lamented. Indeed, the functionality of this material — a simple mixture of water, gravel and sand — was the essence of its appeal.

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More than any other material, it embodied the modern sublime or the idea that human beings could shape the lived environment on a massive scale. Concrete might be bulky, and — from a certain vantage — intimidating, but it is also orderly, malleable and willing to cater to human needs.

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It is this positive vision of concrete — and modernity in general — that one finds in Koyuki’s photos. When human figures appear in the photos, they are always integrated perfectly into the compositional whole. They seem like they belong.

Human, nature and architecture are all one on this Instagram page — not bad for someone whose Instagram bio reads “I’m just messing with my phone.” Bookmark this page for a stressful day.

Pat Finn Author: Pat Finn
Pat Finn is a high school English teacher and a freelance writer on art, architecture, and film. He believes, with Orwell, that "good prose is like a windowpane," but his study of architecture has shown him that a window is only as good as the landscape it looks out on. Pat is based in the New York metro area.
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