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Kenzo Tange: The Designer of Urban Architecture

Image Courtesy:ō_Tange

Fusing the architectural traditions of Japan with the contemporary philosophy and traditions of the western world, the Japanese architect, Kenzo Tange’s work marked a revived awareness of Japanese architectural traditions expressed through a contemporary interpretation of architectural form.

Celebrated as one of the most significant architects of 20th century, Tange was born on September 4, 1913, in Osaka, Japan. He was raised in Imbari, located on the island of Shikoku. After completing his middle school Tange attended his high school in Hiroshima. In 1935, he entered the Tokyo Imperial University and took architectural courses in the Department of Engineering, graduating in 1938.

After working for four years in the Tokyo architectural firm of Kunio Maekawa, Tange returned to the University to do his masters in urban planning and design in 1942. In 1946, Tange became assistant professor at the university and established Tange laboratory, where young associates such as Sachio Otani, Fumihiko Maki, Koji Kamiya, and Kisho Kurokawa exchanged fruitful ideas.

Inspired by the great Swiss architect Le Corbusier, Tange spearheaded the country's reconstruction after the World War II and played an important role in his country’s rebirth and economic upswing. In 1940s and 50s, Tange converted the core of a barren Hiroshima into a tranquil peace park, and was awarded first prize for the design. It was his best known early work.

Tange's success with the Hiroshima Peace Center provided him with several commissions, allowed him to develop further his use of the exposed concrete structural frame, which culminated in the construction of the Kurashiki City Hall, Okayama Prefecture (1958-1960).

Tange designed National Gymnasium Complex for the 1964 Tokya Olympics and won a Pritzker Prize for the design. At the beginning of the 1970s, with a theme of “Human Progress and Harmony”, Tange undertook the architectural design for EXPO ’70 and the Festival Plaza, completed in late 1966.

Tange’s design for the New Tokyo City Hall Complex was selected in 1986 and established his reputation in Japan and the rest of the world. His ‘Plan for Tokyo' received worldwide attention for its new concept of extending the growth of the city out over the bay, using bridges, man-made islands, floating parking, and megastructures. Symbolic of this period is the Fuji Television Building in Odaiba, completed in 1996.

Tange’s highly influential published work include “A Plan for Tokyo” (1960) and “Toward a Structural Reorganization” (1960).

At 91, Tange died on March 22, 2005, in Tokyo, Japan. His funeral was held in one of his works, the Tokyo Cathedral.



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