Are tetrapods ugly?

July 12, 2006

Tetrapods, no not the prehistoric ones described here, but the ones made by the Tetra Co. Ltd. in Japan.

tetrapods up close

Love them or hate them you really cannot escape them in Japan. They cover a large proportion of Japan’s coastline (If you think this is an exaggeration check out some of the images in this 1.4MB pdf file).

They are a legacy perhaps of the fear of tsunamis or maybe of the ‘construction state’ as Alex Kerr describes it (read his well researched book Dogs and Demons, tales from the dark side of modern Japan).

Personally I find there to be something quite beautiful about their form. Particularly the chamfer on the ‘legs’ which probably exists to make it easier to remove from the moulds – an example of function being beautiful.


Some architect enjoyed drawing this.

Here are the moulds.

However their debateable beauty is very tectonic and is best viewed up close and personal. From a distance there is no doubt in my mind; they are ugly.

Lastly I was going to talk about the bird shit which covers them when I discovered the polite term – guano!



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