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Interesting Lectures and Seminars

Modern Architectural History

Applying past lessons to the present

Minako Aichi
3rd-Year Student at the School of Creative Science and Engineering

The course Modern Architectural History can be divided into 2 main sections. The first section examines the period from the Western Renaissance which gave birth to modernism to the birth of modern Western architecture. The second section focuses on Japan from the late Edo Period, examining the issues faced by architects, architectural achievements, and specifics works which were created. When giving lectures, Professor Norihito Nakatani uses plentiful photographs and diagrams to introduce architectural works. Professor Nakatani also talks about his impressions when actually visiting the works, as well as anecdotes from his travels. The lectures are intriguing and I always feel the desire to visit the works myself.

The keywords of the first section classes related to modern Western architecture are “trends and antiquation.” Many people may not realize that architecture goes through trends just like fashion trends of clothes. However, changes in architectural style are born from trends and subsequent antiquation. The philosophies, conditions and events of a given era are greatly related to such trends. The repetition of trends and antiquation gave birth to modern architecture which is not confined by any specific style.

The second section classes related to modern Japanese architecture demonstrate the effort of Japanese architects to catch up with Western architecture from the Meiji Period. Instead of simply imitating Western architecture, I think a unique Japanese architecture was achieved by incorporating Japanese elements. A variety of innovative architecture was created following World War II.

A common trait of both Western and Japanese architecture is that architects in each era constantly confronted problems and worked tirelessly to derive solutions. Architecture expresses the era in which it was created. Understanding of past architecture is more than just mere knowledge; it leads to discoveries of issues related to the present and enables us to rediscover the elements of expression which can be incorporated into the present. The knowledge which I gained in this class will undoubtedly be useful when actually designing architecture.

The Kagawa Prefectural Government Office, a famous work of Kenzo Tange, was studied in the class.