An example of Japan’s pre-war modernist architecture is slated for demolition in February. The former Osaka Gas Shinkaichi Building in Chuo-ku, Kobe, has survived WWII firebombing raids and the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake, but is unlikely to survive the urban redevelopment as it will soon be replaced by an apartment building.
The 5-storey building was designed by architect Setsu Watanabe (1884 – 1967) and completed in 1937. It was originally the head office of Kobe Gas. In 1945, Kobe Gas merged with Osaka Gas and it was then used as the company’s operations department. Watanabe designed a number of commercial buildings in the 1920s and 1930s, but few have survived.
Osaka Gas sold the ageing building to Daiwa House Industry in November 2013. Daiwa plans to start demolition work in February and begin construction of a new apartment building by the end of the year.
The Kinki Branch of the Architectural Institute of Japan have submitted an official request to preserve the building as it is of significant historical value to the neighbourhood.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, January 22, 2014.
Interior images from kentyear.exblog.jp