ASIA212Varley

38 the period of culture in the present age 335

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Unformatted text preview: s as England, France, and Germany placed great emphasis on city planning in the rebuilding of their war-torn cities, the Japanese—in the absence of a significant American interest in it— devoted little attention to overall planning once postwar rebuilding had begun in earnest during the early 1950s.34 Culture in the Present Age 331 To the general neglect of housing needs, highest priority in the early part of the postwar building boom in Japan was given—especially in the largest cities—to the construction of office space. Also under American influence, the Japanese sought to equip their new office-type and other buildings with the most advanced facilities and amenities, including extensive fluorescent lighting and air conditioning. In addition, both in commercial and industrial construction and in later home building, they tried where possible to use fireproof materials to modify the traditional tinderbox character of cities like Tokyo. The Japanese had always lived in small wooden homes, usually incapable of accommodating more than one or two families. Hence the construction of multistory concrete apartment buildings in the postwar period constituted a truly revolutionary development in living style for many urban dwellers in Japan. Although even these more modern apartment homes are exceedingly modest by American standards, the Japanese viewed them as first steps toward achievement of what they perceived as a kind of earthly utopia of informal and leisurely living derived from the model provided by the United States. As part of the postwar building boom, architects experienced a renewal of both self-confidence and pride as Japanese building styles and aesthetic values began truly to attract international attention. One of the leaders in this postwar renewal was Maekawa Kunio, a former student of Le Corbusier and his Cubist-inspired emphasis on geometric forms in architectural design. Among Maekawa’s postwar buildings are the main branch of the Japan Mutual Financing Bank (Nihon Sògo Ginkò, 1952) in Tokyo and the Tokyo International House (Kokusai Bunka Kaikan, 1955), both of which were awarded the annual prize of the Japan Architectural Academy.35 But the greatest fame in Japan’s postwar world of architecture has gone to Tange Kenzò, who began winning prizes i...
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