Kenzo Tange : architect biography

famous architect : Kenzo Tange

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Kenzo Tange architect
Kenzo Tange architect
Kenzo Tange architect
Kenzo Tange architect

Kenzo Tange

Kenzo Tange architect Kenzo Tange (born 1913) is a world - renowned Japanese architect of the second half of the twentieth century who has fused the architectural traditions of his native Japan with the contemporary philosophy and traditions of the western world. Kenzo Tange, as well as most architects of Kenzo Tange's generation, was greatly influenced by the principles of the Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM - 1928) and the individuals identified with that organization including Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, and Siegfried Giedion.

Kenzo Tange believed that the Japanese people were searching for a freedom of expression that would symbolize a new postwar Japanese society free from the technocratic regimes of the past. Kenzo Tange's work marked a revived awareness of Japanese architectural traditions expressed through a contemporary interpretation of architectural form. Kenzo Tange nas become an architect of the world largely because his work is so intensely Japanese. Kenzo Tange demonstrated that a unique regionalism could be developed, and recognized, within the circumstance of the international style.

Kenzo Tange was born on September 4, 1913 in the port city of Imabari, Ehime Prefecture. Imabari is on the Takanawa penisula, which is located on the island of Shikoku, the smallest (50 mi wide by 150 mi long) of the four major islands of Japan. Shikoku is nationally recognized as the land of 88 holy temples and shrines that honor the scholar-priest Kukai. Imabari is the ancient site of early Vayoi (100 B.C.) settlements.

Kenzo Tange attended high school in Hiroshima on the main island of Honsho some 40 miles across the inland sea from his home in Imabari. All of Kenzo Tange's formal professional education was acquired in Imperial Japan before the end of World War II. In 1935, at the age of 22, Kenzo Tange entered the Tokyo Imperial University and took architectural courses in the Department of Engineering, graduating in 1938.

In 1938 Kenzo Tange sought employment in the office of Kunio Maekawa. Bauhaus principles had a strong influence on Japanese architects in the 1930s and Maekawa was clearly one of the most influential Japanese architects of his generation. In design competitions calling for a traditional Japanese approach, Maekawa's unsuccessful submissions were clearly developed in the international style. In perfecting Kenzo Tange's design philosophy Maekawa drew on his five-year work experience with Antonin Raymond in Japan and his experience in Paris with the office of Le Corbusier working on the Villa Savoye and the Swiss Pavilion.

In Kenzo Tange's four years of employment with Maekawa, he assimilated these experiences from his mentor. While in Maekawa's office, Kenzo Tange joined the Japanese Werkbund and was responsible for the planning of the Kishi Memorial Gymnasium. A generation later the office of Kenzo Tange and URTEC was to provide the same type of vital work environment for such notable young Japanese architects as Kisho Kurokawa, Fumihiko Maki (two of the five metabolist group), Arata Isozaki, and Sachio Otani.

Kenzo Tange returned to Tokyo University in 1942 for graduate study. It was during this period that Kenzo Tange developed his lifelong interest in urban design. Under the influence of a classmate, Ryuichi Hamaguchi, Kenzo Tange was attracted to western Renaissance architecture, especially the works of Michelangelo. Kenzo Tange developed a strong sense of the greatness of Rome and Greece. While in graduate school, Kenzo Tange identified the concept of "communication space," which was to be an important part of Kenzo Tange's future work. This concept, derived from his study of the Greek agora and European plazas as public meeting places, was a revolutionary one within the Japanese culture where there is no tradition of public space.

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In 1942, Kenzo Tange was awarded first prize for his design or a Far East memorial building, which was sponsored by the Japanese Architectural Institute. In 1943, Kenzo Tange won a prize for his plan for a Japanese-Thai cultural center in Bangkok. Kenzo Tange completed his graduate study in 1945 at the age of 32. In 1946 Kenzo Tange accepted a professorship at Tokyo University.

Kenzo Tange's private practice began in 1949 with his successful submission to the open competition for the Hiroshima Peace Center located in the city of his high school experience. This project ultimately became Kenzo Tange's first executed permament building (1950). Previously, Kenzo Tange had designed a pavilion of local priducts for at the end of the exposition. The Hiroshima Peace Center was one the first postwar budildings in Japan to develop fully the characteristics of the international style, with an exposed concrete structure and architectural elements that were individually articulated. The influence of Le Corbusier was clearly evident.

In 1951, Kenzo Tange and Maekawa attended the eighth CIAM (Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne) conference. "The Heart of the City" was the theme of the conference, and Kenzo Tange was requested to present his award-winning design for the Hiroshima plan reconstruction. After meeting with Le Corbusier and visiting the construction site of Unite d'Habitation in Marseilles, Kenzo Tange was convinced of the viability of his plan for Hiroshima.

Because of the reorganization of local governments after World War II, a large number of commissions for municipal and prefectual headquarters became available. Kenzo Tange's success with the Hiroshima Peace Center provided him with a number of these commissions, and allowed him to develop further his use of the exposed concrete structural frame, which culminated in the construction of the Kurashiki City Hall, Okayama Prefecture (1958-1960).
By 1957, Kenzo Tange and his associates had adopted the firm name Kenzo Tange and URTEC (derived from the term urbanist architect). It is most probable that this team approach was developed on the model of Walter Gropius and TAC (The Architects Collaborative).

The international design community was focused on Japan and the Tokyo World Design Conference scheduled for 1960. As the program chairman for the conference, Kenzo Tange was inspired to work on a proposal for a large-scale urban design scheme. During his visiting professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959, Kenzo Tange worked for four months with a fifth-year design studio on an urban design scheme that would accommodate housing for 25,000 people over the Boston Bay. This experience helped to develop and clarify Kenzo Tange's ideas on a plan for Tokyo.

A Plan for Tokyo, 1960: Toward a Structural Reorganization was published and presented by Kenzo Tange at the Tokyo World Design Conference. The plan proposed a linear organized matrix for Tokyo Bay, which was to be an extension of the uncontrolled expansion of the city proper. This urban matrix was an adaptation of Kenzo Tange's architectural notions of structural order, expression, and urban "communication space." This approach to large-scale urban design was later applied to the award-winning proposal Kenzo Tange submitted for the reconstruction of the city of Skopje in Yugoslavia (1965).

The Tokyo plan led Kenzo Tange to begin an architectural exploration of the plastic nature of suspended structural form in his design for Saint Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo (1961-1964). This exploration demonstrated a significant break with Kenzo Tange's Corbusian past and cul minated in his design for the Olympic Sports Hall, Tokyo (1964). In 1966, the first megastructural complex combining Kenzo Tange's notions of structural expression and the metabolists' notions of growth systems was constructed. Kenzo Tange's design for the Yamanashi Press and Broadcasting Center, build in Kofu, Japan, allowed Kenzo Tange to give metabolic life to Arata Isozaki's (URTEC) seminal studies for City in the Air (1962).

Kenzo Tange continued to develop the ideas brought together in the Yamanashi Press and Bradcasting Center. The KUwait Embassy and Chancery Building in Tokyo (1970) and the University of Oran proposal in Algeria (1972) each demonstrate further development of a metabolic architecture that suggests incompleteness, flexibility, and the potential for change and growth.

The international oil crisis and popular skepticism, in the mid-1970s, of large-scale urban projects based on megastructures reduced the number of projects of this type in Japan. Most of Kenzo Tange's practice shifted to the developing, oil-rich Arab countries where Kenzo Tange continued to apply his stmcturalist-metabolistic ideas to projects such as the Moroccan Capital and International Congress Hall (1978).

Kenzo Tange's smaller, individual projects reflect his return to the aesthetics of the late modern movement, as can be seen in the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts Building, Minnesota (1974), the Hanae Moi Building in Tokyo (1978), and the Akasaka Prince Hotel, Tokyo (1982). Kenzo Tange's interest in old Japanese traditions, in which many of his aesthetic principles have their roots, has been demonstrated by Kenzo Tange's collaboration with Naburo Kawazoe on the following publications: Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture (1960), foreword by Walter Gropius, and Ise: Prototype of Japanese Architecture (1965).

In a discussion of postmodernism in 1983, Kenzo Tange suggested that if young architects are not allowed to lapse into flights of fancy without being labeled for their divergence, then architecture as expression cannot progress. If the expression of reality is considered modernism, then the architectural expression of a shift from an agrarian to an industrial to an information-based siciety must also be a type of modernism.

Major works:

- Peace Memorial Park of Hiroshima, 1955
- (Former)Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Yurakucho, 1957
- Kagawa Prefectural Government Building, Takamatsu, Kagawa, 1958
- St. Mary's Cathedral (Tokyo Cathedral) (Roman Catholic), Tokyo, 1964
- Site of Expo '70, Suita, Osaka- 1964: Yoyogi National Gymnasium for the 1964 Summer Olympics, Tokyo, 1970
- Hanae Mori Building Aoyama, Tokyo, 1979
- Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 1986
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, Shinjuku, 1991
- Fuji Television Building, Odaiba, Tokyo, 1996
- WKC Centre For Health Development, Kobe, Hyogo, 1998
- Tokyo Dome Hotel, 2000
- Hwa Chong Institution Boarding School, Singapore, 2005


General References
1. B. Boyd, Kenzo Tange, Braziller, New York, 1962
2. B. Bognar, Contemporary Japanese Architecture, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., Inc., New York, 1985
3. F. Ross, Beyond Metabolism, Architectural Record Books, Mc-Graw-Hill Inc. New York, 1978
4. Kenzo Tange and N. Kawazoe, Katsura: Tradition and Creation in Japanese Architecture, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1960.
5. Kenzo Tange and N. Kawazoe, Ise: Prototype of Japanese Architecture, M.I.T. Press, Cambridge Mass, 1965.

other books about Kenzo Tange

Kenzo Tange: Ise: Prototype of Japanese Architecture
Kenzo Tange [translated from the Italian] (Twentieth-century masters)
Kenzo Tange
Three Japanese architects: Drei japanische Architekten; Mayekawa, Kenzo Tange, Sakakura
Kenzo Tange, 1946-1969: Architecture and urban design. Architektur und Städtebau. Architecture et urbanisme
Kenzo Tange 1946-1996
Tokyo-to Shin Chosha: Foto dokyumento + keikaku, gijutsu sutadi
Kenzo Tange & URTEC
Works of Kenzo Tange and Urtec
Kenzo Tange: Ippon no enpitsu kara
Kenzo Tange
The Solitude of Buildings: Kenzo Tange Lecture March 9, 1985
Kenzo Tange
Kenzo Tange
Kenzo Tange: A Selected Bibliography (Architecture Series--Bibliography)
Kenzo Tange, modern Japan's genius architect (Architecture series : Bibliography)
Three Japanese architects: Mayekawa, Kenzo Tange, Sakakura

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