MoMA shines light on structural design in experimental Japanese architecture

MoMA shines light on structural design in experimental Japanese architecture

A new publication from MoMA shines light on the role that structural engineers play in the burst of experimental architecture in postwar Japan. Through essays, images and conversations it traces a lineage of internationally-minded engineers, collaborating effectively, exchanging ideas with architects and mentoring younger generations.

Charting Japanese structural design from 1950 to today, the book prides itself in a scholarly yet accessible approach to the largely unexplored subject. Visual material including archival and contemporary photography is sure to attract new audiences. Texts by Japan’s leading structural engineers will also appeal to experts in the field.

Japanese Structural design book published by MoMa
The cover of the book featuring exterior view of the Fuji Pavilion, Expo ’70, Osaka by architect and engineer Kawaguchi Mamoru, completed 1970. Courtesy Kawaguchi & Engineers

Based on a 2016 symposium held at The Museum of Modern Art during the exhibition ‘A Japanese Constellation: Toyo Ito, SANAA, and Beyond’, the content features a series of in depth essays and roundtable discussions. It’s here where the inter-generational journey of knowledge can be traced – through the experiences of working architects and engineers who have participated with and learnt from the 20th century practitioners first-hand.

Editor Guy Nordenson, a structural engineer in New York and professor at the Princeton University School of Architecture, pulls out the ‘lineages’ highlighted in the title: Structured Lineages: Learning from Japanese Structural Design. And gives special focus to the work of Kawaguchi Mamoru, Kimura Toshihiko, Matsui Gengo, Saitō Masao, Sasaki Mutsurō, and Tsuboi Yoshikatsu.

The book argues for more credit to be given to these collaborative spirits, who created the best circumstances for the innovation that defined the Japanese architectural scene from the late 20th century until today. §

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