Year of Production: 2010
Concept of Exhibition:
Taking as its point of departure the various experimental ideas on the city that flourished in Japan in the 1960s and using a combination of diverse media — from architectural scale models to photographs and slides, along with animations and other audio-visuals — this exhibition examines various circumstances of Japanese and other cities up to the present day, and identifies in particular the distinctive aspects of those circumstances as they are manifested in present-day Tokyo.
Venue: The Atrium, Faculty of Architecture and Design, Victoria University of Wellington, 139 Vivian Street
Opening Hours: 9am - 5:30pm, Monday to Friday
Duration: Monday 9 July 2018 - Friday 17 August 2018
What is a city? There can be no single answer to this question. For over 5,000 years cities have developed all over the world. In each, a unique material culture and lifestyle has formed to reflect local conditions and history.
In the 20th century, influenced by modernization, cities changed themselves by rather stylized methods. A mesh of modern urban planning covered cities. As if to replace their local culture, cities were rationalized to fit the modern social system, planned according to an ideal based on an archetypal European city. This rapid urbanization caused drastic change to cities and forced governments and cities to adapt to new conditions.
In the 1960s Tokyo became a megacity. The population reached 20 million and continued growing rapidly. Newspapers were filled with articles about the problems caused by modernization: traffic congestion, pollution, housing shortages and sinking ground. In order to find a way out of these critical situations and to renovate the city, Japan mobilized industrial productivity during a high growth period of its economy. In response to this increase in momentum, architects announced quite ambitious urban projects through mass media.Show more While none of these projects were realized in Japan, globally many urban plans by architects were implemented and modern cities emerged. In most cases the architect’s intentions were not fully realized. Part of a given city would be built to plan only to be surrounded by chaotic areas. Save for few examples, ambitious city planning was unstable and failed to keep its consistency. This reality reveals the essential difficulty in modern urban planning, which Isozaki pointed out; it’s extremely difficult to set visions for idealized cities and share the visions with people, and then realize them consistently. Rather than difficult, urban planning may simply be unnecessary. Tokyo serves as a good example. Thinking back to the critical atmosphere of the 1960s, it’s significant that today few of its citizens are aware of Tokyo as the largest megacity in the world. There is no vision of an ideal shape or consistency for Tokyo; it looks like an impromptu patchwork. The reality of Tokyo shows that expanded megacities can be functional. In some sense, cities resemble living things. It may sound strange, but it seems to be a natural fact that megacities themselves are irrational. It’s not easy to plan new city blocks to have true organic relationships with existing urban context. A new vision for cities is needed, one which can connect unrelated things and create a new organism. Show less
Since its founding in 1972 the Japan Foundation has conducted a comprehensive and worldwide program of activities with the aim of promoting international understanding through cultural exchange in three areas: arts and cultural exchange, Japanese-language education overseas, and Japanese studies and intellectual exchange.
Among the diverse fields of cultural and artistic endeavours pursued in Japan, Japanese architecture in particular has attracted growing international attention in recent years. Many Japanese architects are active in various parts of the world and bilingual architectural journals published in Japan enjoy wide circulation abroad.
Recognizing the opportunity that this situation presents, the Japan Foundation is sponsoring “Struggling Cities: from Japanese Urban Projects in the 1960s,” an international travelling exhibition on the theme of Japanese architecture and the city.Show more We hope that visitors to the exhibition will gain from the exhibition a sense of the connections between past and present, how the search for a new vision of the city — a search that gained momentum in Japan half a century ago — has unfolded over time, and how those earlier efforts relate to today’s architecture and urban environments. It is also hoped that, by touring various places around the world, the exhibition will provide in each destination an opportunity to reexamine the issue of urbanization while grasping the current challenges and future directions of our ever-burgeoning cities in terms of specific relevance to each host location.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to the exhibition’s planner, Naohiko Hino, for his tireless efforts toward its realization; to the creators involved in producing the works for display; and to the many other collaborators and supporters without whom this project would not have been possible.
The Japan FoundationShow less