Home in on Japan’s postwar architecture

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Home in on Japan’s postwar architecture

Home in on Japan’s postwar architecture

In the 1960s, architect Kazuo Shinohara made a famous comment in Shinkenchiku magazine: “Residence is art. … Residence should be outside of what is believed as architecture, it should rather be considered as a form of art, like paintings and sculptures.” A bold statement considering that unlike paintings or sculptures, function is usually of the priority of architecture, and that most buildings cannot be moved.

This makes curator Rui Asanuma’s display design of Hachioji Yume Art Museum’s current exhibition, “Legendary Houses in Postwar Japan: Provocative/Introspective,” an important part of the visitor’s experience. Giant white sheets, hung from ceiling to floor, screen videos and slide shows to accompany a wealth of other images, documents and architectural plans. It’s an ideal way to show off the show’s subject and offers visitors a virtual walk through the residences.

Sixteen buildings from the 1950s to ’70s are presented, with notes on construction methods, materials and the lifestyles of former and current residents. It starts with architect Kenzo Tange’s minimalist personal residence 1953 “House,” which reflects his famous motto, “What is aesthetic is functional,” and represents the beginning of a movement that went on to reinterpret traditional Japanese wooden architecture. []

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