Japan-ness: Urbanism in Japan since 1945

Exhibition, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz, France.

From September 7, 2017 until January 8, 2018
Within the context of a Japanese season at Centre Pompidou-Metz, at the heart of the emblematic Shigeru Ban building, this exhibition is an overview of Japanese architecture since 1945. It showcases the exceptional works of such great architects as Kenzo Tange, Toyo Ito, Kengo Kuma, Arata Isozaki, and Tadao Ando while highlighting the mutations undergone by large Japanese cities with a series of films, photographs, models, drawings, and more, arranged in a chronological itinerary.
According to the architect Arata Isozaki, Japanese architecture sets itself apart by the immutability of certain values and by an identity that architects have constantly reinterpreted over the centuries. He characterises this distinctiveness, the common theme of the exhibition, with the expression “Japan-ness”. Visitors are immersed in an organic city designed by Sou Fujimoto and move through the cyclical history of Japanese architecture, from the destruction of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, to its most recent expressions.
Following a chronological path, from 1945 to the present day, the exhibition is divided into six periods:
- Destruction and rebirth (1945);
- Cities and land (1945-1955);
- The emergence of Japanese architecture (1955- 1965);
- Metabolism, Osaka 1970 and the « new vision » (1965-1975);
- The disappearance of architecture (1975 -1995);
- Overexposed architecture, images and narratives (1995 to the present day).
From the 1950s, a new vision of the city and land took shape influenced by Le Corbusier’s international modernist architecture in particular. With Arata Isozaki and Kenzo Tange, a new Japanese architecture marked by the use of concrete emerged between 1955 and 1965. The Osaka universal exposition in 1970 signalled a decisive turning point with the emergence of trends such as “Metabolism” and “New Vision”, represented by Kisho Kurokawa, Yutaka Murata and Kazumasa Yamashita, who used innovative materials, forms and technologies
The exhibition is based on Centre Pompidou collection, enriched with works and models from architects’ studios, designers, Japanese museums and private collections. This body of works, exhibited for the first time on this scale in Europe, provides a better understanding of the profusion and richness of Japanese architecture and urban design.