International Architecture in Interwar Japan: Constructing Kokusai Kenchiku

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University of Washington Press, 2009 - Architecture - 334 pages
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After World War I, architects around the world aspired to transcend national boundaries devastated by conflicts, resulting in a flurry of artistic creativity. In Japan, a generation of young architects strove to create "international architecture," or kokusai kenchiku, a product of increasing international travel and communication, growth of the mass media, and technological innovation.
Ken Tadashi Oshima traces the many interconnections between architects from Japan, Europe, and America and their designs during the interwar years by examining the careers and buildings of three leading modernists in Japan: Yamada Mamoru (1894–1966), Horiguchi Sutemi (1895–1984), and Antonin Raymond (1888–1976). Each espoused a new architecture encompassing modern forms and new materials, and all attempted to synthesize the novel with the old in distinctive ways. Combining wood and concrete, paper screens and sliding/swinging glass doors, tatami rooms and Western-style chairs, they achieved an innovative merging of international modernism and traditional Japanese practices. Their buildings accommodated the demands of modern living while remaining appropriate to Japan's climate, culture, and economy.
Until now, little scholarship on Japanese modernist architecture has been available in English, and scholars have tended to isolate the Japanese work from architecture in the European-American sphere of influence. Oshima reverses this trend, exploring the influences that flowed in multiple directions between architects in Japan and their counterparts in Germany, Austria, The Netherlands, and elsewhere. Sadly, few of the buildings of Japan's interwar period withstood the destruction of World War II And The wrecking balls of subsequent decades of development. Yet Oshima uses a wealth of photographs that vividly capture the character of the burgeoning architectural media of the interwar years to generously illustrate the works and visions of these pioneering modernists.
Ken Tadashi Oshima is assistant professor of architecture at the University of Washington.

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chapter one International Architecture in Japan
chapter three Structures for Modern Living
chapter four Buildings for Modern Infrastructure

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About the author (2009)

Ken Tadashi Oshima is associate professor of architecture at the University of Washington.

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