Japan Architecture

Starting from the seventies, and more incisively after the eighties, in the “ Tokaido megalopolis ” (Tokyo-Yokohama-Kyoto area, etc.) the settlement relationships previously established between major poles and corresponding suburban areas changed. The spread of high-speed communication systems (such as highways and especially Shinkansen trains) and the thickening of the interaction networks between the different service sectors of the tertiary sector, has pushed the population to concentrate further in the more densely urbanized areas, to the detriment of the already contracted smaller centers, triggering, at the same time, the tendency of the residents of the heavily urbanized areas to move away from the main poles (in endemic decrease) and to settle preferably in the corresponding suburban areas where settlement and living costs were evidently lower. The combination of these phenomena highlights the profound transformation that has taken place in the fabric of Japanese cities, and the consequent increasingly extensive deconstruction of the surviving parts of their historical fabric. The case of Kyoto (the largest among the cities of ancient origin) is emblematic and significant, where the theme, substantially new for Japanese culture, of preparing accurate urban restoration programs to stem the destructuring process caused by the urban development of the last decades with a Western imprint and matrix has been posed on a large scale. The relationship between Western urban-architectural models and new Japanese architecture has also been at the center of the critical debate since the post-war reconstruction of the 1950s.

According to ask4beauty, two different cultural and professional positions appear to be recognizable: contrary to the situation that took place up to the 1970s, it is not possible to describe in a unitary way today neither the framework of research and experiences in progress, nor, more generally, the role of contemporary Japanese architecture. within the broader scenario of international architectural culture.

According to Western critics, the influence would be one-sided and would reveal the degree of subjection of the new Japanese architecture compared to the Euro-American one. On the contrary, the Japanese criticism emphasizes that Western themes and languages ​​are filtered by autonomous researches, conducted along the double ridge of the autochthonous psychological perception of space and, above all, of the awareness of the different formation process of the Japanese city facing than the western one. Japanese cities have in fact generally configured themselves in a discontinuous way with sudden increases and recurrent disasters (natural and otherwise) and on the basis of an introverted concept of living space (typologies, and consequent aggregation models, projected towards the inside the lots and closed towards the street) against the opposite condition and characteristic of modern western cities. These are precisely the terms of the dialectic that crosses and problematizes all current Japanese architecture.

The occasion and dividing line between the two trends must certainly be considered the story of the 1970 Osaka Universal Exposition, an event that gave rise to numerous disputes by elites. cultural and student groups with considerable political repercussions. From that moment on, the positions of Japanese architects were also differentiated in relation to the type of commissions, assignments and editorial channels (the birth of new architecture magazines is also significant). While some architects appear on the scene of major world assignments, others are more involved in the problems and in the analysis of the ferments locally connected with the new social and economic reality of a Japan risen to the world’s leading economic-technological-financial power. The main exponent of the first group still remains K. Tange thanks to the experiences that have placed him at world attention (from the 1950s onwards) for the ability to combine the components of a

Tange has been and is currently engaged in architectural and urban planning assignments in all parts of the world, including developing countries. Among the numerous works we highlight (after 1970) the plan for the city of Baltimore (1972-75), the plan for the Bologna fair district (1975), the project for the Naples business center (1980), the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo (1973-77), the Air Terminal at Kuwait Airport (1979), the royal palace complex in Jeddah (1977-82), the headquarters of the Re Feisal Foundation in Riyāḍ (1976-82), the Sogetsu Art Center in Tokyo (1973), the Hanae Mori Building in Tokyo (1976-78), the Akasaka Prince hotel (of the thousand rooms) in Tokyo, the History Museum of Himeji Prefecture (1984), the assignment very recent for the study of the Rome business center,

The second line of research, which was precisely clarified after the events of 1970, is generally referred to the sphere of so-called ” postmodern ” architecture.

Main exponents of this trend, which echoes mainly American experiences (referents R. Venturi, P. Eisenmann, M. Graves, etc.), are A. Isozaki (former collaborator of Tange), Y. Watanabe, F. Maki, T. Ando. More recently, Takamatsu, Komiyama, Kitagawara are being brought to light on similar positions. Their works (mainly commercial buildings, administrative offices, sports clubs, private homes, etc.) are characterized by an extreme variety and unscrupulousness of languages. More DIYthat selection between different linguistic formulas (but also, as in the case of Ando, ​​sensitized to the reflection on introverted spatiality, and, as in some of Isozaki’s works, to traditional formal archetypes), the works have in common the tendency to transform into morphological choice the themes and symbols of building technology elaborated to a sort of industrial vernacular (R. Miyake) or “ techno-aesthetics ” (MF Ross), where, therefore, the themes of advertising language and the ephemeral components of artificial lighting systems assumed as the “ material ” of architecture. Different results follow: mannerist quotations of various matrix (also, in Isozaki’s works, in an eclectic-Renaissance key), references to the stylistic suggestions of styling productsindustrial and so on. To be mentioned, as representative of this trend: the Art Museum in Kitakyushu, the Fujimi Country Clubhouse (1972-74), the Central Library of the city of Kitakyushu (1972-75), the Yano House in Kawasaki (1972-75), the Hayashi House (1978) among Isozaki’s works; the Tokyo apartment houses (1967-78), Tsukuba University (1974), the Aquarium in Okinawa (1975), the Spiral private cultural center and the Sports Palace in Fujisawa (1980-85), the the Danish Embassy in Tokyo (1979), the Kyoto Museum of Modern Art (1983-86) among those of Maki; the Time’s Building in Kyoto (1984) and the Festival buildingin Naha (1984) by Ando. On intermediate positions is placed the work of S. Otani which tends to carry in a constructivist and ” brutalism ” key (expressionistic use of exposed reinforced concrete) the constructive matrices derived from the Japanese building tradition (e.g. the temples of Ise). In this context we should also remember both the International Festival Hall in Kyoto (1966) and the Kawaramachi public housing complex in Kawasaki (1974).

Japan Architecture