Creation in Present-day Architecture and the Japanese Tradition

by Kenzo Tange

Architectural creation is a special form of comprehending reality. It works upon and transforms reality through the construction of a substantial object of use. The artistic form of this object, on the other hand, has the two-fold quality of both mirroring and enriching reality. This understanding of reality which takes place through architectural creation requires that the anatomy of reality, its substantial and spiritual structure, be grasped as a whole . . .

The realities of present-day Japan, while part of an historically conditioned world-wide reality, are at the same time given their unique shape by the traditions of Japan. Living within this reality, yet also trying always to comprehend it afresh in a forward-looking spirit, these traditions force themselves insistently upon our attention. Were it otherwise, were the problems of today not so pressing, we might accept tradition calmly and unreflectingly as inherited custom, or something out of the past. Only those who adopt a forward- looking attitude realize that tradition exists and is alive. It is therefore only they who can confront and overcome it. This means neither elaborating grandiose schemes for the future nor being fatefully involved with the past, but awareness that the most vital task of today is creatively to elevate both past and future.

Comprehension of reality is reflected in us as thought, as a view of life. Naturally this includes a political aspect and architecture always mirrors the political issues of a society and in turn raises fresh ones. No one would deny that the housing problem or the city problem have political implications. Nevertheless, to be politically active is not the solution for the architect. The proper position for him is to be architecturally active, to try to reflect and mould the realities of society through architectural creation, to grasp reality within architecture. Although reality is outside us it is reflected within us. This inner reality takes shape through the method of architectural creation. Comprehension of reality in architecture occurs through this architectural method and it is in turn deepened by the latter's improvement and enrichment. We contemplate and mould outer reality through the image which has been shaped by the method of architectural creation, through inner reality. Only then and thereby can we come close to the world outside us, and this contact with outer reality in turn changes and enriches the method of

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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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