One of Yokohama’s early examples of modernist architecture will soon be demolished. The Prefectural Police Headquarters Onoecho Government Building was built in 1952. The 3-story concrete building with a curved exterior, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and no front entrance is considered one of the city’s modernist masterpieces.
Two homes designed by two of Japan’s top modernist architects have had price reductions this month. Update: Both homes have since sold.
Meguro Bauhaus Masterpiece by Tsuchiura Kameki – SOLD
Tsuchiura Kameki (1897-1996) started his career working for Frank Lloyd Wright in Wright’s Taliesin studio in Wisconsin in the 1920s. Tsuchiura’s earlier works were influenced by Wright’s style, but in the 1930s he shifted over to the Bauhaus style.
Located in a high-end residential neighbourhood between Meguro and Ebisu Stations, this home was designed by Tsuchiura as his own personal residence. This was the second residence he designed for himself and is regarded as one of his best surviving works and a pioneer of modern town housing. Tsuchiura lived in the house until his passing in 1996. Over the years he and his wife entertained many notable guests in the architecture world including greats such as Kunio Maekawa and Yoshio Taniguchi. The home even left a lasting impression on Pritzker Prize-winning architect Fumihiko Maki who recalls being impressed by the modernity of the house when he visited it at an early age.
Construction and refurbishment of the 55-year old Kyoto Kaikan building finished earlier this month. The original hall was designed by leading modernist architect Kunio Maekawa (1905-1986) and built in 1960. However, theatre stages were too small and the building was not equipped for operas or ballet performances. The building’s condition was also starting to deteriorate.
Kyoto City spent 11 billion Yen refurbishing the South Hall which included preserving the Maekawa-designed exterior, while the Main Hall was completely rebuilt into a 6-storey hall with 2,005 seats.
The 50-year old City Hall building in Iga City, Mie Prefecture, might just be saved from demolition after a building report suggested that repairing the structure may be cheaper than rebuilding it.
The city mayor has proposed restoring the south building and using it as a multi-purpose centre with library facilities. At a council meeting, however, concerns were raised about whether the building could be earthquake-retrofitted and how much it would cost to renovate it rather than destroy it.
Early estimates suggested that large-scale repairs and maintenance to the building could cost around 5.5 billion Yen (44.5 million USD).
The 49-year old Yamanashi Cultural Hall building in Kofu City is undergoing earthquake retrofitting which is expected to extend the building’s lifespan for another 50 years.
The 8-storey building was designed by modernist architect Kenzo Tange and competed in 1966. It is said to be one of Tange’s exemplary works and was selected by DOCOMOMO Japan as one of the top 100 modernist buildings in the country. The structure was designed to allow for future extensions, and the original floor area of 18,000 sqm was later expanded to 22,000 sqm.
There are very few chances in a lifetime to buy a modernist home in Japan, and opportunities are going to become even more limited in coming years as these homes are gradually demolished by their owners. Although most are sold for land value with little to no market value placed on the structures themselves, these homes are irreplaceable.
Two homes by modernist architect Yoshimura Junzo are currently on the market in Kanagawa Prefecture (Update: Both have since sold). One is an oceanfront home just south of Hayama, and the other is a mountain-top home in Kamakura.
One of Japan’s exemplary models of modern architecture – the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama – now stands a chance at being saved from demolition after a recent structural analysis found that it could be reinforced against earthquakes.
The Kanagawa Prefectural Government are also in discussions with the landowner, the nearby Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine, to seek an extension to the land lease.
In late 2013, it was reported that the prefecture decided against renewing the lease due to the high costs of maintaining the buildings and the anticipated costs of retrofitting. The prefecture announced plans to close the museum at the end of March 2016. Under the terms of the lease, any buildings were required to be demolished before returning the land to the Shrine.
Fashion and architecture go hand in hand, and pieces designed by some of the great designers can remain timeless for generations. Tomas Maier, the creative director of Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta, is hoping to spread awareness of some of Japan’s modernist architecture that is at risk of being demolished and lost forever. Of particular interest in Maier’s campaign is the Hotel Okura Tokyo, designed by Yoshio Taniguchi and completed in 1962, which is scheduled to close and be demolished later this year.
The owners of the Japan Pearl Center building, a well-known modernist building in Kobe’s old foreign settlement area, recently announced that they are considering demolishing the 62-year old building.
The four-storey building was designed by architect Yoshimitsu Mitsuyasu completed in 1952. It was built by Hyogo Prefecture as a centre for the local pearl industry. It was fitted out with fluorescent lighting, which was very new at the time. The building survived the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake which devastated much of the city.
Two buildings designed by modernist architect are at risk of demolition as the rising maintenance costs are proving too much for the city’s finances. The Yahata City Meeting Hall (1958) and Yahata Library (1955) are located in Yahatahigashi-ku, Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka.