Tokyo-based architectural firm Atelier Bow-Wow, lead by Momoyo Kajima and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, takes on dual role as the curator and designers of Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020 – a landmark exhibition at the Japan Society Gallery in New York, featuring the shifting socio-architectural landscape of Tokyo between the 1964 and 2020 Summer Games.
With the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics as its catalyst, the exhibition explores the city’s distinct architectural language, through models, drawings, renderings and photographs of six categories of architectural facilities – stadium, station, retail, capsule, office, and home - developed through the history of last 55 years.
The 1964 Summer Games facilitated unprecedented growth in the post-war era, bringing rapid development of new infrastructure to a re-established Japan, making it a nation of peace and prosperity on the global stage. Through the assemblage of rare archival drawings and photographs collected from over 30 architectural firms, as well as a vast range of multimedia works, Made in Tokyo provides visitors a unique opportunity to experience a distinguished set of buildings built over the years, and through the lens of social, economic and political development, evaluate their impact on transforming the city. The highlights include original 1960s drawings of 1987 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Kenzo Tange, and a model of Kengo Kuma’s New National Stadium, which is currently under construction for the 2020 Games.
Speaking about the thematic, the curators said, “In the 1960s - 15 years after the end of World War II, Japan grew with great productivity and enthusiasm, various urban institutions were created, and young architects were allowed to creatively contribute to diverse architectural designs. Now, in contrast to those times, there is an incentive for large capital and organisations towards mass-redevelopment. Through this tremendous turnover of city spaces and transitions of urban institutions we showcase the evolution of life in the city of Tokyo.”
The exhibition design captures the international spirit of the Games that sparked the reinvigoration of Tokyo with flags lining the gallery ceilings. The curved walls, inspired by the ovular shape of athletic stadiums, create a partial separation between images of the past and present that also allows for contextualisation through proximity and comparison.
Made in Tokyo traces transformative events through the history of Tokyo city over the last half century, and its response in the architectural development. It includes the shaping of metropolitan life and urban spaces through periods of economic growth in the 1970s; the bubble economy of the 1980s, which markedly affected property values; and the 2011 Tohuku earthquake, which critically altered the population’s collective psyche.
With both historic and contemporary works on display, the exhibition organised by the Japan Society juxtaposes the city's past with the present, reflecting on the critical role of architecture in structuring society and its effect on people’s lives.
Made in Tokyo: Architecture and Living, 1964/2020 is on view at the Japan Society Gallery till January 26, 2020.