Talk about Modernist Japanese architecture, and you can hardly fail to bring up Tokyo‘s Hotel Okura. Built in 1962 under the design direction of Yoshiro Taniguchi, Hideo Kosaka, Shiko Munakata, and Kenkichi Tomimoto, the hotel has long been a landmark not only for the city, but for Japan. Now, however, the hotel’s owners have decided that the main building for the hotel will be demolished in September of 2015, with a new hotel taking its place. To learn more – including how to sign the petition for preservation – keep reading after the break.
The Japan Art Association (JAA) has named American architect Steven Holl as the 2014 Praemium Imperiale Laureate for Architecture. Holl will be honored at a ceremony in Tokyo on October 15th. The jury’s citation states that Holl’s ”works are internationally highly regarded, primarily as a result of his philosophy regarding the unification of the “experience” of space, as depicted by color and light, with the history and culture of each site of construction.”
Since its inauguration in 1989, the annual global arts award has recognised “outstanding contributions to the development, promotion and progress of the arts” in the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, music and theater/film. Only a small handful of architects have received this award, including James Stirling, Tadao Ando, Alvaro Siza, Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel, Toyo Ito, Zaha Hadid, Peter Zumthor, David Chipperfield, and Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron.
“We were sensitive to the way in which society was becoming more consumption-oriented and gave serious thought to how we ought to respond to that change without simply accommodating ourselves to it.” -Toyo Ito
“I was entering a dead world, which would never see the light of the day. I wanted to treat that dead world as if it were alive, or to put it another way, to try to create a different reality.” - Terunobu Fujimori
Under the title of Fundamentals, Koolhaas’ Biennale asked national pavilions to focus on their respective countries’ relationships with modernity, the movement that has, for better or worse, shaped the contemporary city. In the case of Japan, modernity was expressed in a unique way, as architecture was instrumental to the rapid industrialization and growth that the country experienced after World War II. This growth resulted in the first architectural avant-garde outside of the Western world. By the 70s, as this movement reached its peak, local architects, historians, artists and urbanists began to look at modernism in a critical way, questioning its impact.
In “The Real World,” the Japan exhibit at the Biennale, curator Norihito Nakatani unearths how this critical movement expressed itself through Osamu Ishiyama, Toyo Ito, Terunobu Fujimori, and other Japanese masters whose works strove to connect to the human of “the real world” rather than contribute to the failed utopias of modernism. Interviews with this group of architects bring to light the desire that they had to positively impact society, and how they attempted to materialize that desire in their early works. The objects found inside the pavilion articulate the storytelling behind the process, leaving their interpretation open to visitors.
“You’ve got to try to make an impact on the times you live in, and you’ve got to do it through your work, not through words.” – Osamu Ushiyama
“Actual objects continue to possess tremendous energy – much more so than photographs or models.” – Tsutomu Ichiki
More about the “In the Real World” after the break: