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Exhibition at Centre Pompidou-Metz explores architecture and urbanism in Japan since 1945
Sachio Ôtani, Pavillon Sumitomo, Osaka, 1970.

METZ.- 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 » (19651975)
• 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 influences 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

In the 1980s and 1990s, a generation of influential architects appeared on the international scene. Toyo Ito, Tadao Ando, Shin Takamatsu, Itsuko Hasegawa and Kazuo Shinohara developed “disappearing architecture”, marked by the simplification of forms, the use of metal and experimentation with the indivdual home. The disaster of the Kobe earthquake in 1995 prompted reflection on emergency architecture.

For some years now, a new generation of architects, recognised with the most prestigious awards, has been working towards an architecture of transparency and a narrative architecture. Shigeru Ban, Kengo Kuma, SANAA and even Sou Fujimoto now embody this drive.

The exhibition was supported by the Pompidou Centre collection, enriched with works and models from architechts’ studios, designers, Japanese museums and private collections. This body of work, 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.

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