Traditions and Modernity in the Architecture of Japan

The formation of such a direction as regionalism began in the Land of the Rising Sun simultaneously with the countries of Northern Europe.

Most noticeably in the architecture of Japan, regionalism began to manifest itself in the second half of the twentieth century after the defeat in World War II. The impetus for the spread were factors from the political, social and economic spheres such as: the forced demilitarization of the country, democratization, reconstruction after the war, technological progress in the construction industry.

All this has become a powerful driving force for the development of culture and society in Japan. The construction of cultural centers, sports, business centers, theaters and museums began. The formation of a fundamentally new type of public structure – the town hall, which is an object with a large number of functions – is the building of local government and the center of culture.

In the middle of the last century, the development of architecture of this kind of buildings took place following the example of the second wave of modernism in Europe. The principles of this style harmoniously intertwined with the traditional architecture of Japan, which for many centuries was distinguished by the stability and invariability of the style. It avoided radical changes in the style that were characteristic of European art. In the history of architecture in Japan, two architectural and constructive trends can be tracked: a frame made of wood with a bearing filling made of light shields and mats; massive log house made of wood. The first direction has spread in the construction of housing of various categories. In this style, huts and palaces were built. The second direction has found application in the design of temples and storages.

A distinctive feature of European architecture was the predominance of the plastic development of columns, walls, arcades. Japanese architecture is characterized by the plastic development of a heavy roof, made of tiles, which has a rather steep slope. In this case, large removals of overhangs of the roof are provided, which by means of variant design support eaves. In this case, the plastic design of structures that are located vertically (frame walls or walls from logs) has not been carried out. Therefore, their neutral structure was preserved.

Heat and humidity were taken into account when designing the basic structures of walls and roofs. For the same reason, the structures above the bases are slightly raised on stand-alone supports. The seismic situation on the islands caused low-rise buildings, the design of laconic volumes of buildings.

This historical reference is provided for an understanding of the ease with which the country of the rising sun took over the features of modernism, organically weaving them into traditional architecture. A light frame made of wood Japanese architects were replaced by monumental structures with a reinforced concrete frame. The brightest representatives of this style were Mayakawa, Tange, Kurokawa and many others. Classics of modernism in Japan – Museum of Peace in the Hiroshima complex, built by the architect Tanga from 1949 to 1956.

Soon, the low emotionality of modernism began to require the search for auxiliary means of expression. Initially, the methods of the traditional regional approach were used.

In the architecture of our days the development of regionalism took place in three directions: imitation, illustrative traditionalism and organic refraction of traditions.

When developing a project of religious buildings, the project basically imitates a traditional log structure, but reinforced concrete is used. The same approach is found in projects of secular buildings. An example is the pavilion at Expo-67, designed by architect Iosinobo Asahara, a Tokyo theater project created by the architect Hiroyuki Iwamoto. Suspended panels of walls of reinforced concrete, located horizontally from the outside, are decorated with a relief-imitation of a chopped wall of wood.

As for illustrative traditionalism, here the most popular is the introduction of elements adopted traditionally in a structure designed according to the laws of modern style. Very often these elements are like non-veiled citations. The prototype of the wedding of the building of international conferences in the city of Kyoto (made of iron and concrete), the architects S. Otani and T. Oti chose a similar element of a third-century temple in the city of Ise.

Kikutake, for its development in the city of Izuma, chose sunscreens made of reinforced concrete, similar to the lattices of the VII century temple made of wood.

The organic direction of applying the approaches of architecture that has developed traditionally is represented by the Tokyo Festival Hall, the project of the architect Mayakawa. The frame of the building is light, made of iron and concrete, filled with transparent, light-passing fences. A characteristic feature of the structure is the massiveness of the roof, its large removal, the size of which visually increases the parapet made of concrete under a slope. It protects the roof from the wind. The composition of the building, developed in the traditions of Japanese architecture, has an updated form, in which there is no imitation. Such a heavy parapet, having fundamental differences in forms, was used in the development of the museum in Nagasaki. If we compare the two above solutions with the building of the Tokyo Museum of Western Art erected at the same time by the Corbusier project, you can see that the techniques used in the projects enhance the expressiveness of the composition.

Also, the heaviest wedding for the country of the rising sun became popular, and was used formally by many architects. Today it is found in all the big cities.

The way of the architecture of the country of the rising sun in the development of the regional direction in the creation of projects of modern buildings is easier to see by comparing two objects with the same purpose – two town halls – in the works of the architect Tanga, designed with a difference of two years. It is Kagawa Prefecture in Takamatsu and the municipality in Kurashiki. The prefecture is designed in an international manner, belonging to a particular nation gives only the presence of consoles of reinforced concrete, taken out on the facade by the ends, which resembles wooden constructions made in Japanese traditions. The project of the municipality is an example of the implementation of a regional direction without the use of elements of national color, which indirectly affected the location of the open poles that formed at a great distance from each other, forming the first tier, which are slightly widened. Also, the elements of the national architecture can be attributed to the proportionality of the components of the cutting of the walls of the facades into two rows and their connection to the corners, which resemble the conjugation of a log house made of wood in the heavier wedding of the structure.

Depth signs of the regional direction are related to the selectivity regarding the selection of load-bearing structures and the mapping in the construction of their tectonic capabilities. Considering the fact that the traditions of Japanese architecture were used as a base for the construction of beams and beams made of wood, the tectonics of arches and domes did not take root in the architecture of the country of the rising sun. Therefore, in the architecture of our days, specialists use reinforced concrete ceilings with ribs, displaying their elements on the facades, in an environment, at the same time, the beams do not practically find use. There are ubiquitous structures of folded type made of reinforced concrete for coatings and walls, and their analogues-multi-wave shells having the form of a cone and a cylinder, vaults and domes-are not used. The systems of pendant coatings and the arrangement of these systems in volumetric forms are actively applied. Despite the modern design of the projects, the creation of their silhouettes was inspired by complex forms of coatings, made in the best traditions of Japanese architecture.

The most striking manifestation is the project of the Olympic complex in Tokyo, designed by the architect Tange in 1964. The complex consists of two buildings. One of which is an indoor pool, the second is a basketball court. Coverings of buildings – pendant. The main carrying ropes of the pool are attached to the two pylons. The hall for a game of basketball – to one. Secondary – attached to the contours, serving as a support made of reinforced concrete. The construction is done in 2 scales – expressing the spatial shapes and silhouette of the coatings made of metal. And on a smaller scale – rack-and-beam supports, which are contours, reminiscent of traditional architectural forms.

At the end of the last century, the regional style gave way to global trends, manifested in architecture. Basically it was neo-modernism, neo-expressionism, a postmodernist trend. These styles in Japan were developed by the architects Shinohara, Kikutake, Isozaki, Ando, Ito, Motsuna. Directions are characterized by minimizing expressive techniques, limiting the use of arches and domes. The transition is primarily due to the replacement of reinforced concrete with metal in structures.