A history of contemporary Japan through one hundred pictures of houses

A history of contemporary Japan through one hundred pictures of houses

Home is the most intimate and revealing structure of human life. As such, it constitutes the origin of architecture and the most effective means of capturing its essence. It is clear from the introduction by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando that the work we hold in our hands is a work that will go down in history. because “Japanese house since 1945”, written by the specialist architect Naomi Pollock, is not just another “beautiful book”, which we leaf through in search of inspiration: the work published by Parentheses, also reveals itself as a “biblical” reference, history and society. A book, in addition to an architecture book. .

Between the desire for Western modernity and centuries-old traditions

It invites us to discover historically how the historical and societal upheavals that Japan has witnessed since 1945 have affected its homeland, since the 1940s, when it was necessary. “Born again from the ashes” After World War II, until today, the period is called the 2020s “epidemic panic,“passage”Restructuring and transformation“In the fifties”“Economic miracle” From the sixties, “Exhibitions and Exports” In the seventies, “A time of prosperity” (80 years old), “disappointment” From the nineties”The social rise of the 2000s“And finally,“The Coming of Wonderful Japan.” From the 2010s.

Between the desire for Western modernity and centuries-old traditions, space constraints and societal unrest, architects have truly competed in innovation and boldness to respond to the need for individual housing in the heart of cities. The work thus makes us understand the euphoria felt by Japanese architects in the face of post-World War II renewal – “Each of them tried in his own way to invent the structure of a democratic world.” Tadao Ando explains – but also difficulties, disappointments, even “Uncertain future” Which now presents itself…In this sense, this book, which surveys Japanese residential architecture since 1945, composes a realistic history of post-war Japanese society, through the lens of architectural design. The architect explains.

A Japanese society where the single-family home model is king

A society in which the individual home remains king, despite the small size of the land; When the change of ownership often involves demolition/reconstruction; Where innovation in forms and materials is legion…

Even if it is about space, materials and forms, the work also addresses lifestyle. “What lifestyle did we live in these homes? asks the author. For each one, she strives to find concrete evidence: interviewing the architects, their sponsor, the families who live there, experts, etc. “Together, words and images capture the spirit of the architecture and help bring these homes to life.”“, explains Naomi Bullock. For the author, it was really important that “Tell the story of the homes from the inside.” In the words of architect Kazuhiro Kojima: “When we talk about homeland, there is no one right answer.”Naomi Bullock added: “This book shows that on the contrary there is much more.”

These 100 “portraits” of houses are finally enriched with historical or architectural “focuses” that describe design developments around particular themes (site, roof, kitchen and bathroom, window, stairs and corridors, courtyards and gardens, etc.). ).

The Japanese House after 1945
Throughout the work, The Japanese House after 1945, the author presents, among images of houses, historical points as well as points of emphasis, in order to understand the impact of changes in society on the design of Japanese housing. © Arcs Editions, 2023

Therefore, it is a work of reference, which does not forget to orient itself towards the future, with a text that evokes the latest trends observed by Kumiko Inoue, which witness the emergence of collaborative design, the use of more local materials, renewal and reuse, oh-so – topics that are of great interest to us in our time, Which is also addressed by Japanese architects, with many opportunities for new innovations.

“By going beyond the strict professional framework, where it is a question of designing the ‘best’ possible building according to a given budget and conditions, the architects have contributed to doing their best to capture, through their creativity, this uncertain future, despite the ‘difficulties. The most important qualities of an architect are not intelligence and know-how, but mental strength and the ability to cling to your dreams!” Tadao Ando, ​​Introduction to the Japanese House after 1945, ed. In parentheses, 2023

Between the presence of nature, the play of space and forms, the art of traditional living and delicacy, and boldness and innovation, Japanese architects reveal to us through this book their ability to explore architecture. A great book to give to yourself or will be given to any lover of Japan, history, houses and of course architecture…

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