Late-modern Japan and the Wild Samurai Generation

This course examines the development of architectural discourse and production in Japan from the 1970s to the very recent past, focusing on the radical polemics of Isozaki Arata, Hara Hiroshi, and the so-called Wild Samurai generation that consists of Ando Tadao, Ito Toyo, Hasegawa Itsuko, and Ishii Kazuhiro. Standing outside or even opposite to the orthodoxies of Tange Kenzo and Shinohara Kazuo, these figures represent critical impulses that sustained new vitalities to Japanese architecture, liberating and ultimately helping to shape the contemporary scene.  

Isozaki Arata is the mercurial and polarizing figure who has continued to create, provoke, and anoint since his association with the Metabolist Movement. We will also close attention to his non-architectural work, as a curator, critic, and impresario. Similar in age, Hara Hiroshi authored some of the most megalomanic creations of Japan at the height of its economic might, most famously Kyoto Station and the 500mx500mx500m Cube. Perhaps paradoxically, Hara’s architectural visions are intensely romantic and sensitive, informed by field studies of vernacular settlements and uninhibited by conventions of decorum.

The two main historiographical themes of late-modern Japan are the relevance of postmodernism and Japan’s evolving relationship to the international scene. To what extent was postmodernism embraced? And how did it precipitate the transformative trajectories of the subsequent generations? In a global context that has changed profoundly since the early days of Tange and Shinohara, the discourse of style, language, and tectonics also took on new significance.    

We will work closely with efforts to digitalize the archives of Isozaki and Hara and forthcoming exhibition projects. While the course continues some of the threads of HIST-4377 (Competing Visions of Modernity in Japan), it is not a prerequisite. The course qualifies as an alternative to Buildings, Texts, and Contexts 3.   

Up to five seats will be held for MDes students.

This course will be taught online through Friday, February 4th.