If there was any singular architect who helped shape post-war Japan it was arguably Kenzo Tange. The Japanese architect converted Hiroshima’s barren ground zero into a tranquil peace park (1954), housed 13,00 bureaucrats in the massive New Tokyo City Hall (1991), created the iconic Fuji Television Building (1997), and much more. Now, a new exhibition at Gallery MA in Tokyo looks at the architecture through the eyes of the architect.
“Just like the stone inspired those of the middle ages, concrete will likely bring contemporary inspiration to the people”
Kenzo Tange, the first Japanese architect to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, is responsible for over 330 works of architecture in 31 countries. In Kenzo Tange: 20th Century Masters, Paolo Riani wrote that in Tokyo “there were not even the mountains of rubble of German towns; the wooden structures had gone up in flames and smoke.”
So it’s understandable why Tange turned to concrete, which, in turn, became the impetus in advancing his Metabolist school of urban design. He once professed his love for concrete by saying, “Just like the stone inspired those of the middle ages, concrete will likely bring contemporary inspiration to the people.”
Tange by Tange 1949 – 1959 is indeed a retrospective of the architect. But it’s organized primarily through the eyes of the architect himself. That is, through photographs of his own work taken by Tange himself.
The exhibition presents a picture of Tange’s early years through contact sheets of 35-millimeter film images that capture not only his own work but also works of traditional architecture. “They form an elaborate record of his activities… and reveal how the young Tange had been engaging with architecture.”
Tange by Tange 1949 – 1959 is on display at Gallery MA in Tokyo through March 28, 2015.