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Save Japan’s Modern Architecture

As preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics escalate, so do concerns regarding the preservation of the city’s heritage; and more specifically, according to Tomas Maier, Japan’s modernist architecture. The Bottega Venneta creative director recently embarked on an “urgent visit” to Japan in an effort to evaluate the city’s risk of loosing its modernist icons. With special consideration for the overlooked and threatened Hotel Okura, Maier believes that this Yoshiro Taniguchi-designed landmark is just one of many structures at risk of falling to "progress.”

Watch the video above and learn more about how you can help preserve the Hotel Okura, here

Design Your Own Home With MUJI's Prefab Vertical House

Japanese design brand MUJI has taken a bold step into architectural territory. A few years after a collaboration with Kengo Kuma to design two prefab houses, the company has come forth with a Vertical House in Tokyo. Streamlined and efficient, the home accommodates all the demands of residential living within a small plot of land.

Interior images and more information, after the break.

Courtesy of MUJI Courtesy of MUJI Courtesy of MUJI Courtesy of MUJI

Spotlight: Fumihiko Maki

Fumihiko Maki, the Pritzker Prize laureate and 67th AIA Gold Medalist, turns 86 today. Widely considered to be one of Japan's most distinguished living architects, Maki practices a unique style of Modernism that reflects his Japanese origin. Toshiko Mori has praised Maki's ability to create "ineffable atmospheres" using a simple palette of various types of metal, concrete, and glass. His consistent integration and adoption of new methods of construction as part of his design language contribute to his personal quest to create "unforgettable scenes."

Tokyo's Modernist Gem, Hotel Okura, To Be Demolished

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.

Zaha Hadid Architects Reveals Modified Tokyo National Stadium Designs

Update: The Japan Sport Council has now unveiled images of ZHA's redesigned Tokyo National Stadium, which Zaha Hadid Architects say will make "make the stadium even more efficient, user-focussed, adaptable and sustainable." The capacity of the stadium will remain at 80,000 seats.

After sustained protest from Japanese architects and citizens alike, Zaha Hadid Architects have confessed that they are modifying their designs for Tokyo's National Stadium, the centerpiece for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After repeated criticism, including a petition launched by Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki, the Japanese Government had already announced a plan to reduce the cost from its original budget of $3 billion to a more manageable $1.7 billion.

Now, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has added fuel to the fire by saying that it would support a scaled-back plan for the entire event: "We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more temporary grandstands," said Committee vice president John Coates.

More on Tokyo's plan to dial down its Olympics after the break

Shigeru Ban Designs Temporary Pavilion for the World Cup

In honor of the World Cup (which starts today), the Brazilian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, has invited Shigeru Ban, this year's Pritzker Laureate, to build a temporary pavilion.

Spotlight: Toyo Ito

As one of the leading architects of Japan's increasingly highly-regarded architecture culture, 2013 Pritzker Laureate Toyo Ito (born June 1, 1941) has defined his career by combining elements of minimalism with an embrace of technology, in a way that merges both traditional and contemporary elements of Japanese culture.

Japanese Architect Launches Second Petition Against Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Stadium

Tokyo-based architect Edward Suzuki has launched another petition against Zaha Hadid's design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium, claiming it is "overwhelmingly large for the context" and "will desecrate the 'sacred grounds' of Meiji Shrine Outer Gardens". This is the second petition against the design and is intended to support the earlier petition by Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki by providing an equivalent targeted primarily at English speakers, aiming to "pressure our government not only from within but also from outside of our country." You can see the petition in full here.

Video: Shibaura House by Kazuyo Sejima

As a part of his ongoing film series about Japanese architecture, French architect and filmmaker Vincent Hecht has created this visual exploration of Kazuyo Sejima’s Shibaura House. Completed in 2011, this five story office space is walled almost entirely in glass and features double-height, split level floors that showcase the paths of travel through the building. The building also features a public cafe on the ground floor, and a roof terrace.

Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki Petition Against Zaha Hadid's Tokyo Olympic Stadium

Though it seemed a compromise was met last October, when Japan’s minister of education, Hakubun Shimomura announced plans to reduce the cost and scale of the Zaha Hadid-designed Tokyo Olympic Stadium, the debate rages on.  

Pritzker laureates Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have launched an online petition to “defend the ginko tree-lined landscape of blue sky and Jingu Outer Gardens” from the construction of Hadid’s “oversized” stadium. 

The petition (now with more than 13,000 signatures) urges the Japan Sports Council, who hand selected Hadid’s winning design alongside Tadao Ando, to reconsider upgrading the existing Meiji Jingo Gaien Stadium and the gardens surrounding it. This solution, they believe, is a more affordable and sustainable alternative that would prevent the relocation of nearby residents. 

Take a tour though Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic Stadium and share your thoughts about the design (and petition), after the break...

Terunobu Fujimori's Soft-Hard Zinc House Opens Near Tokyo

A new private house designed by an exceptional Japanese architect, Terunobu Fujimori, has opened. The new building is located in a small provincial town near to Tokyo. Neighbored by typical one-family residences, the newcomer comes to the fore. Different, shiny and apparently soft metallic façade catches the visitor’s eye. 

Yet the scale of the building is much smaller than one might expect. Every height, width and depth are accurately measured and left from a certain point of view spatially stingy: no waste is admissible here.

@ArchDaily Instatour: #Tokyo

We recently went to Tokyo during the Sakura to visit the city's incredible architecture: from Metabolist towers and the work of Pritzker laureates to the buildings of the new generation of Japanese architects. See the 27 photos we snapped after the break.

Also, leave your suggestions for our next Instatour in the comments below, and be sure to follow @ArchDaily on Instagram to travel with us through the world of architecture! Next destination: #Venice.

Video: SunnyHills at Minami-Aoyama by Kengo Kuma

As a part of his ongoing film series about Japanese architecture, French architect and filmmaker Vincent Hecht has created this visual exploration of SunnyHills at Minami-Aoyama by Kengo Kuma.  Designed to resemble a bamboo basket, this pineapple cake shop is built using the traditional Japanese joint technique of “Jiigoku-Gumi.”  The wooden latticework is meant to provide visual contrast with the concrete facades of the building’s neighbors.

Zaha Hadid’s 2020 Olympic Stadium to Be "Scaled Down"

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that Japan's minister of education, Hakubun Shimomura, has announced a plan to trim the budget proposed for the Olympic stadium (now expected to cost $3 billion) designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. While he did not reveal the details of the scale-down, he maintained that the "design concept will be kept." 

Pritzker Prize laureate Fumihiko Maki has rallied together a number of Japanese architects - including Sou Fujimoto, Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma - to oppose the massive scale of Zaha Hadid’s competition-winning National Stadium. Planned to be Tokyo’s main venue for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic games, Hadid’s 290,000 square meter stadium is accused of being “too big and too artificial” for the surrounding context. 

Architect Floats "100 Colors" for Japanese Art Festival

© Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners
© Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners

Emmanuelle Moureaux, expert in the architecture of color, has created yet another vibrant space, this time for the 2013 Shinjuku Creators Festa in Japan

Shikiri, meaning "to divide space using colors," is a made-up term the French architect has embraced in her art and architecture. She aims to "use colors as three-dimensional elements, like layers, in order to create spaces, not as a finishing touch applied to surfaces." 

© Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners © Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners © Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners © Daisuke Shima / Nacasa & Partners

Pony Pediatric Dental Clinic / Masahiro Kinoshita - KINO Architects + KAMITOPEN

© Keisuke Miyamoto © Keisuke Miyamoto © Keisuke Miyamoto © Keisuke Miyamoto

AD Classics: Shizuoka Press and Broadcasting Center / Kenzo Tange

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

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 Japan.

 More about this icon of Metabolism after the break…. 

H-Orange / Takuro Yamamoto Architects

  • Architects: Takuro Yamamoto Architects
  • Location: Tokyo
  • Area: 115.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2006
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Takuro Yamamoto Architects

Courtesy of Takuro Yamamoto Architects Courtesy of Takuro Yamamoto Architects Courtesy of Takuro Yamamoto Architects Courtesy of Takuro Yamamoto Architects