Tange's Building

Tange''s career as an architect may be divided without excessive oversimplification into four phases, which are, of course, linked by his private attitudes and disciplines and merge into one another. When he first opened private practice in Tokyo and began his postponed career in building he was thirty-seven, which meant he was young enough to want to experiment and old enough to be respectful of experience. Thus, in the early years two phases alternated. In one phase, conventional rectangular forms and conservative structural frames were impeccably planned with precocious poise and developed a detached sense of repose. The smell of tradition is most noticeable in this phase, which includes the Hiroshima Peace Museum, Tokyo City Hall, and Tange's own home.

In the second, but simultaneous, style of his work, Tange became a prominent member of the international avant-garde of the time, alert to all the potential excitement of shell concrete, plastic form, and advanced geometry. Early trophies of his adventures in this phase are the Children's Library at Hiroshima, designed in his first year of practice, and the Ehime Convention Center of a year later. This phase soon passed, although as late as 1955 he designed the Shizouka Convention Hall, the best example of all its warped- plane roof.

However, even while his interest in plastic shapes faded, the emphasis on structure which marked these experiments was passed on and absorbed into his more restful rectilinear forms, to produce the third Tange phase. This could be called his trabeated phase: his beam period. Super-heavy beams of concrete are square cut, articulated, crossed and projected like giant lumber planks. Most of his buildings between 1955 and 1960 glorified the concrete beam, nowhere more effectively than in the Kagawa office building at Takamatsu.

Tange's fourth and present phase is a logical extension of the last. The solid concrete structure is no longer merely accentuated in details like the main beams, the roof, and balustrades. It dominates completely so that massive concrete is the sole visible medium. Windows as such disappear, recessed somewhere behind horizontal slits between hefty planks. The building becomes all structure, with a primitive, almost elemental air, like a log cabin. The purest expression of this phase so far is the Kurashiki City Hall. Other projects now on the drawing board suggest that a fifth and even bolder phase will soon appear.

A detailed view of Tange's development, and of the par-

-25-

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Kenzo Tange
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Tange and Japanese Architecture 9
  • Tange's Building 25
  • Notes to the Text 46
  • Creation in Present-Day Architecture and the Japanese Tradition 113
  • Biographical Chronology 118
  • Chronology of Buildings 119
  • Bibliography 120
  • Index 122
  • Illustration Credits 126
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