We’ve built you a better ArchDaily. Learn more and let us know what you think. Send us your feedback »

"Classic Japan" Episode 1: Yoyogi National Gymnasium / Kenzo Tange

From Tokyo-based French architect and film maker Vincent Hecht comes "Classic Japan," a series of short films focussed on Japanese architecture from between the 1950s and 80s. 

The first installment takes viewers into Kenzo Tange's 1964 Yoyogi National Gymnasium in Shibuya, built to house the swimming and diving events of the 1964 Summer Olympics. Completed in less than two years and seating upwards of 15,000 spectators, the Gymnasium is renowned for its suspension roof, and will host the handball competitions during Tokyo's 2020 Summer Olympics.

Spotlight: Kenzo Tange

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 Tokyo 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: Kagawa Prefectural Gymnasium / Kenzo Tange

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

At about the same time as Kenzo Tange’s two huge Olympic arenas for the Olympic Games in the summer of 1964 in Tokyo, 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.

Photo by naoyafujii - http://www.flickr.com/photos/naoyafujii/ © Tange Associates Photo by naoyafujii - http://www.flickr.com/photos/naoyafujii/ © Tange Associates

Video: Yoyogi Olympic Arena / Kenzo Tange

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

Special thanks to Emmet Truxes, from Harvard GSD, for sharing this animated video of Kenzo Tange’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) Kenzo Tange professorship. The Harvard lecture honors architect Kenzo Tange by bringing distinguished architects from around the globe to the GSD.