May 9th 2016

Modern Japanese Architecture: From Meiji Restoration to Today (edX)

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Explore the balance between traditional Japanese architecture and Western influence starting with the introduction of Western building styles in the 19th century through the influence of Le Corbusier in the mid-20th century and then up to the present day.

Examine how architecture reflects Japan’s history, starting with its emergence as a new nation in the 19th century and the building of the Western-style capital city of Tokyo on the foundations of Edo. New building materials and construction methods reflected changing times, and the radical contrast between tradition and modernism in the nation was clearly visible in architecture throughout Japan.

After exploring the intense Westernization Japan experienced to rival the world’s developed countries, we will turn to look at how Japanese architects developed their own version of Modernism. Initially, Japanese wanted to pursue the discoveries of the Franco-Swiss Le Corbusier and of Walter Gropius at the German Bauhaus. But soon, Japan also began to produce its own 20th-century architects and develop its own style. Following World War II, Kenzo Tange became the first Japanese architect in history to achieve international fame.

Lastly, we will mount an interview-based case study titled “Exploring Tokyo Tech’s Twenty-First Century O-okayama Campus.” Tokyo Institute of Technology (aka Tokyo Tech) possesses its own unique and unbroken succession of architects and a campus consisting of their buildings. We will learn about Kazuo Shinohara, one of the most prominent Japanese designers of the second half of the 20th century, and several of his renowned disciples from Tokyo Tech.

This course aims to illustrate the present state of Japanese Modernist and postmodern building, as well as the distance covered over the past 150 years, including the 130-year history of Tokyo Tech itself. Join us on this journey through time as we examine and admire Japan’s architecture to better understand Japanese history.

What you'll learn:

- How and why today’s Japanese architecture differs from the West

- A brief cultural history of Japan in the modern period

- A greater understanding of the works of several prominent Japanese designers

- The materials and structural design used by Japanese architects

- Overall goals and constraints affecting Japanese architects today