kenzo tange Kagawa Prefectural Government Office

Kenzo Tange in front of the nearly completed Kagawa Prefectural Government Office. Taken around 1958 by an unknown photographer.


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.


a contact sheet of photographs taken by Kenzo Tange of his own work. Pictured here are photos of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

“Just like the stone inspired those of the middle ages, concrete will likely bring contemporary inspiration to the people”

kenzo tange hiroshima

The Hiroshima Peace Center (1952) photographed by Kenzo Tange. A striking photo that shows his structure rising up in the middle of the graveyard.

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.”

kenzo tange residential home in setagaya

Kenzo Tange’s home in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo (1953) photographed by Tange from a helicopter in 1956

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.


The Hiroshima Peace Center (1952) photographed by Kenzo Tange in 1955.


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office photographed by Kenzo Tange in 1957 when it was completed.


left: Kurayoshi City Hall in Tottori (1957) | right: Kagawa Prefectural Government Office (1958)


A photo taken in 1959 by Tange of his classroom at MIT where he was completing a residency. The work done here would become the basis for his “1960 Plan for Tokyo”