The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 is the first major UK exhibition to focus on Japanese domestic architecture from the end of the Second World War to now, a field which has consistently produced some of the most influential and extraordinary examples of modern and contemporary design.
“The Japanese House. Architecture & Life after 1945”
March 23 – June 25, 2017
Silk St, London
At the heart of the exhibition is an ambitious and unprecedented full-size recreation of the Moriyama House (2005) by Pritzker-prize winning architect Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA). Visitors can weave in and out of the fully furnished units and garden, experiencing the remarkable house of Mr Moriyama in an immediate and physical way.
Filling the other half of the Barbican’s lower galleries will be an eccentric and lovingly crafted Japanese tea house, commissioned for the exhibition from acclaimed architect, and highly respected historian of Japanese architecture, Terunobu Fujimori.
Considering developments in residential architecture in the light of important shifts in the Japanese economy, urban landscape, and family structure, the exhibition features over 200 works including rarely seen architectural models and drawings, photography and films, in order to cast a new light on the role of the house in Japanese culture.
The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 is curated by Florence Ostende (Barbican Centre, London), in collaboration with Pippo Ciorra (MAXXI, National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome). The Chief Advisor is Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Atelier Bow-Wow/Tokyo Institute of Technology). The Academic Advisor is Hiroyasu Fujioka (Professor Emeritus, Tokyo Institute of Technology). The exhibition designer is Lucy Styles. The Fujimori tea-house is designed by Terunobu Fujimori in collaboration with architect Takeshi Hayatsu and built by students from Kingston University.
The exhibition is co-organised by the Japan Foundation and the Barbican Centre and co-produced by the Japan Foundation, the Barbican Centre, MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts, Rome and the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. The project was initially conceived in Tokyo by Kenjiro Hosaka (MOMAT) and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto.
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.
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 Japanese House. Architecture & Life after 1945 will 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).