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"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.

China’s Pearl River Delta Overtakes Tokyo as World’s Largest Urban Area

China’s Pearl River Delta has surpassed Tokyo in both size and population, making it the largest urban area in the world, according to the World Bank. The colossal megapolis - a conglomerate of several cities, including Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan - is a central component to China’s manufacturing and trade industries. 

It is now home to 42 million - more people than the countries of Canada, Argentina or Australia. And, considering nearly two-thirds of the East Asia region’s population (64%) is still “non-urban,” the area is expected to grow exponentially. 

House in Tsubaki / PANDA

  • Architects: PANDA
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Architects in Charge: Kozo Yamamoto, Shinji Ikeda
  • Contractor: AZ Construction
  • Area: 95.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Koichi Torimura

© Koichi Torimura © Koichi Torimura © Koichi Torimura © Koichi Torimura

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

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.

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2002 / Toyo Ito + Cecil Balmond + Arup. Image © Sylvain Deleu Tower of Winds. Image © Tomio Ohashi Tama Art University Library. Image ©  Iwan Baan Sendai Mediatheque. Image © Nacasa & Partners Inc

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.