In the Japan devastated by the Second World War and economically incapable of planning large-scale public settlements, the cities slowly transformed into vital, apparently disordered and continually expanding entities in which small single-family dwellings were built, demolished and reconstructed without pause.
“The Japanese House. Architecture & Life after 1945”
November 9 2016 – February 26, 2017
via Guido Reni 4A,
From 9 November 2016 to 26 February 2017 with the exhibition The Japanese House. Architecture & Life after 1945 co-produced with the Japan Foundation, the Barbican Centre and the Tokyo Museum of Modern Art, MAXXI will be presenting the centrality of the theme of domestic architecture in Japanese society through the work of archistars such as Kenzo Tange, Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima and Shigeru Ban, that of a number of their masters, hitherto less well known in the West, such as Seike Shirai, Kazuo Shinohara and Kazunari Sakamoto as well as a group of extraordinarily promising young designers.
The exhibition was born out of an idea by Kenjiro Hosaka and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto and is curated by Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator at MAXXI Archittetura directed by Margherita Guccione, in collaboration with Kenjiro Hosaka (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo) and Florence Ostende (Barbican Centre, London) with consultancy from Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Atelier Bow-Wow / Tokyo Institute of Technology).
This is the first exhibition in Italy dedicated to a theme that has produced some of the most influential and extraordinary examples of modern and contemporary architecture.
A recurrent subject within the artistic, cinematic and visual imagination, the house is also the conceptual place in which Japanese society and culture bring together two fundamental aspects of the modernization of the country: tradition, with its system of rules and customs, and the propensity for innovation and the most radical expressive research.
The Japanese House tackles a number of principal themes, presenting essential aspects of the Japanese domestic and architectural space, revealing the expressive richness of these projects and the capacity to create unexpected harmonies between man, building and the context housing it, urban or natural as it may be.
The first theme to which we are introduced is that of the coexistence of traditional aspects and extreme architectural innovation, which we see in the first wooden houses by Kenzo Tange and also in more explicitly “avant-garde” projects such as the Sky House by Kikutake or in the more recent works by SANAA and Toyo Ito.
The second is that of the continuity in Japanese culture, as evident in architecture as it is in all other fields, the continuity we find between the exterior and the interior of the house, between nature and artifice, between ancient and technologically advanced materials. The exhibition highlights the ties established through the universities, the studios and the associations between the various generations of masters and their students who have gone on to become masters in their own right. We find it in the works of Shirai, of Sakamoto, of Kengo Kuma and of many other designers.
The third aspect concerns finally the role of the domestic space, the key to the entire metropolitan culture and to the urban metabolism of the Japan of today, characterised by the silent congestion of the urban spaces, by the link between the imaginations of architects, filmmakers and manga cartoonists, through to the impenetrable recipe that permits every Japanese designer to combine with innate skill Shinto sobriety and western minimalism, primordial and high-tech materials, privacy and transparency. In this sense one can hardly fail to be impressed by the works of Shinoara, those of Ryue Nishizawa and Sou Fujimoto, as well as by those of their younger followers.
The exhibition layout designed by Atelier Bow-Wow in collaboration with MAXXI, is intended to reproduce the spatial sensation of the buildings presented, in which functionality is frequently understood more of a psychological than practical device.
Drawings, models, vintage and contemporary photos, together with videos, interviews, film clips and mangas and works by artists make up the presentation together with life size reproductions of fragments and sections of particularly significant buildings such as the House U by Toyo Ito, the emergency shelter by Shigeru Ban and other essential elements of the Japanese domestic space.
The “non-architectural” materials such as the works by artists, filmmakers, anime artists and photographers are intended to facilitate understanding of the relationship between the Japanese inhabitant and their house and at the same time to extend the visitor’s gaze to take in a broader view of an infinitely rich and attractive culture that is frequently described in a summary, exotic or excessively romantic manner.
The exhibition features among others designs by Takefumi Aida, Atelier Bow-Wow, Takamitsu Azuma, dot architects, Go Hasegawa, Itsuko Hasegawa, Hiromi Fujii, Terunobu Fujimori, Sou Fujimoto, Ikimono Architects, Kumiko Inui, Osamu Ishiyama, Toyo Ito, Yuusuke Karasawa, Kiyonori Kikutake, Chie Konno, Kisho Kurokawa, Kiko Mozuna, Hideyuki Nakayama, Kazuhiko Namba, Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), Keisuke Oka, onishimaki + hyakudayuki architects, Antonin Raymond, Junzo Sakakura, Kazunari Sakamoto, Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), Kazuo Shinohara, Seiichi Shirai, Kenzo Tange, Tezuka Architects, Riken Yamamoto, Junzo Yoshumira, Takamasa Yoshizaka.
The Japanese House. Architecture & Life after 1945 be open at the Barbican Centre in London from 23 March through to 25 June 2017 and at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo from 11 July through to 18 September 2017 (to be confirmed).