19.04:“REIWA” Is Announced

Mitsuo Katayama

Now we are in springtime, and many people are coming up around Kintetsu Nara-station. 
By the way- do you know about the government area which exists around there? 
Perhaps if someone knows of this, they will not come without business, as there are not restaurants or cafes nearby.  That’s why this area is quiet and calm, and keeps a mild atmosphere beside Mikasa Mountain.  It has a lot of character and is quite distinguished from other cities. 
Two works of architecture help to create this atmosphere: those are the Nara Culture Hall and the Nara Prefecture Government Building.  If you studied architecture before, you may think of your text-book and agree with me.


Both structures have an exposed concrete finish.  The Culture Hall has a deep façade of light and shadow in horizontal lines.  There is also a court-yard plan.  The Prefecture Government Building has a polite, rigid-frame structure, with layered balconies which emphasize its traditional Japanese eaves.  They both remind us of Mr. Maekawa and Mr. Tange and give us an impression of the 60's. 

By Googling, I found the architect is actually Mr. Mitsuo-Katayama, who worked in the government design section after graduating from Kyo-Dai (Kyoto-University, Western Japan).  According to Wikipedia, in that design section, at that time, the design-chief chose his team with the philosophy that “graduates of To-Dai (Tokyo University, Eastern Japan) rely strictly on theory, and have no creativity."

Actually I didn’t know of Mr.Katayama, and instead of him I was reminded of Mr.Maekawa and Mr. Tange.  This indicates to me the architectural division that existed like a battle between east and west.  Nonetheless, I can feel the depth of the movement that proceeded in that era; they were all seeking Japanese modern design.

Today, the texture of exposed concrete finish on these buildings is still very fine due to the latest developments in restoration technology.
I used to think these designs were “old” and I didn’t fully appreciate them.  But now, I feel the purity and freshness which Japanese modern architecture achieved in the 60's, and when I think about the abundant expressions realized with minimum materials, I feel strongly they must be preserved.  

Chronological Information:

Mr.Mitsuo Katayama(1918〜1985)
Nara Culture Hall:1968
Nara Prefectiure Government Building:1965
Mr.Kunio Maekawa(1905〜1986)
Tokyo Culture Hall:1961
Kyoto Hall:1960
Mr.Kenzo Tange(1913〜2005)
Kagawa Prefecture Government Building:1958