Spotlight: Kenzo Tange

Courtesy of Wikimedia Common

Kenzo Tange (4 September 1913-22 March 2005), the Pritzker-Prize Winning Japanese architect who helped define Japan’s post-WWII emergence into Modernism, would have turned 101 today. Inspired by Le CorbusierTange decided to study architecture at the University of in 1935. He worked as an urban planner, helping to rebuild Hiroshima after World War II, and gained international attention in 1949, when his design for the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park was selected. Tange continued to work in and theorize about Urban Planning throughout the 50s; his “Plan for Tokyo 1960″ re-thought urban structures and heavily influenced the Metabolist movement.

AD Classics: Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center / Kenzo Tange

Courtesy of Petr Šmídek - www.archiweb.cz

“Architects today tend to depreciate themselves, to regard themselves as no more than just ordinary citizens without the power to reform the future.” -

In honor of what would have been Kenzo Tange’s 100th birthday, AD Classics presents one of the Japanese master’s most iconic projects – the Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center. Built in 1967, the building was the first spatial realization of Tange’s Metabolist ideas of organically-inspired structural growth, developed in the late 1950s. The Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center is far more significant than its relatively small size would suggest, encapsulating the concepts of  the new Metabolistic order in architecture and urban planning that prevailed in post-World War II .

 More about this icon of Metabolism after the break…. 

AD Classics: Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium / Kenzo Tange

Photo by naoyafujii – http://www.flickr.com/photos/naoyafujii/

At about the same time as ’s two huge Olympic arenas for the Olympic Games in the summer of 1964 in , there was built in the southern part of Japan a much more modest sports arena of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture between 1962 and 1964. More after the break.

Video: Yoyogi Olympic Arena / Kenzo Tange

Kenzo Tange’s Yoyogi Olympic Arena from Yoyogi GSD on Vimeo.

Special thanks to Emmet Truxes, from , for sharing this animated video of ’s Yoyogi Olympic Arena with us.  Check out the amazing visualizations set to music by Gray Reinhard (we particularly love the build-up of the magnificently suspended roof around minute 5, which is then further detailed a few minutes later) which was created by a team of six students - Emmet Truxes, Nathan Shobe, Julian Bushman-Copp, Mijung Kim, Jeffrey Laboskey, Misato Odanaka - to understand the  construction of the building’s innovate tensile structure.

More about the project after the break.

Video: Wang Shu, “Geometry and Narrative of Natural Form”

Founder of Amateur Architecture Studio and Head of Architecture at the China Academy of Art, Wang Shu was the first Chinese architect to hold Harvards Graduate School of Design (GSD) professorship. The Harvard lecture honors architect by bringing distinguished architects from around the globe to the GSD.

Wang Shu’s practice caught the world’s attention with their pavilion for the 10th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2006. As a critique of the architectural profession, excessive building and the on-going demolitions caused by the rapid urbanization of China, their installation ‘Tiled Garden’ was constructed of 66,000 recycled tiles salvaged from demolition sites. Their work is embedded in the history and traditions of Chinese culture, referencing everyday building tactics and the Chinese vernacular tradition of building, hence their practice name “amateur architecture”.

Reference: The Harvard GSD

AD Classics: Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park / Kenzo Tange

Photo by hairyeggg - http://www.flickr.com/photos/hairyegg/

On August 6th, 1945, a B-29 bomber dropped the first atomic bomb in history over Hiroshima, , targeting the intersection of bridges over the Honkawa and Motoyasu rivers. The bomb devastated Hiroshima within a radius of 5 km, resulting in 140,000-150,000 deaths by December of that year.  was commissioned with the challenge of designing the reconstruction of Hiroshima. By designing the Hiroshima Peace Center and Memorial Park, Tange expressed the solidarity of human kind as well as symbolizing a commitment to peace. More after the break.

AD Classics: St. Mary Cathedral / Kenzo Tange

© Scarletgreen

There are some buildings that do not belong to any time or age. The Saint Mary Cathedral of by is definitely one of these. Of course materials and technologies make it recognizable as a project of the 20th century, but we could easily say that this project has been built yesterday the same as 50 years ago. It’s not usual, in terms of the quality of architecture. And it is not the only quality of this project.

More after the break.

AD Classics: Yoyogi National Gymnasium / Kenzo Tange

© Flickr User: kanegen

Built for the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, , the Yoyogi National Gymnasium has become an architectural icon for its distinctive design.  Designed by one of ’s most famous modernist architects, , the gymnasium is a hybridization of western modernist aesthetics and traditional Japanese architecture.

Tange’s innovative structural design creates dramatic sweeping curves that appear to effortlessly drape from two large, central supporting cables. It’s dynamically suspended roof and rough materials form one of the most iconic building profiles in the world.

More on the Yoyogi National Gymnasium by Kenzo Tange after the break.