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Kenzo Tange was born on 4 September 1913 in Imabari / Japan. He started studying architecture at the University of Tokyo in 1935, finishing in 1938, where his final thesis was awarded the Tatsuno prize. Shortly afterwards, he took up work in the office of Kunio Maekawa, while continuing with both studies and lecturing at the University of Tokyo. During the war years, Tange was commissioned with various projects by the city of Tokyo and won three competitions although none of these concepts were realised.

It was the realisation for the design for the Centre of Peace in Hiroshima, setting up his own architectural office and taking on a seat at the University of Tokyo which marked Tange's rise to fame from 1949 onwards. He became one of the most influential architects, urban planners, architectural historians, theoreticians and teachers of the 20th century. He gained many contracts and honours, from 1953 onwards on an international level, too, had many publications, took on many visiting professorships, and was a member of various international architectural associations.

His approach of using decorative but functional forms peaked in the 1961-64 sport halls built for the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964. The second, the structuralism dominate, phase of Tange's work expressed itself on a formal level by the fragmentation of a building as a unit and its integration into its surroundings. In urban planning - Tange's most important area of research - this correlated with a desire for an open yet dynamic structure which could cope at the highest technical level with the permanent changes taking place in the environment. Tange sympathised with the metabolistic architectural movement in Japan, which, just like the Archigram and Archizoom groups in Europe, formulated visionary concepts for area and city planning as a response to economic and technological advancement. Following a one year stint as guest professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Tange published his plan in 1960 for the reorganisation and expansion of the Japanese capital Tokyo. The concept was to create an upper level 40 metres above ground stretching over the bay of Tokyo to provide space for new city sections linked with one another by a series of ring roads. At the same time an underground rail network with space for shopping centres would have allowed the city to expand downwards. The cellular extension of the new city neighbourhoods into the sea and above and below the old city, all connected to the utility network like the body's circulation system, defined the city as a technically highly developed organism growing continuously in all directions.

A year later, Tange won a competition for reconstructing the city of Scopje which was destroyed in an earthquake in 1963, before he took on the task of preparing the master-plan for EXPO '70 in Osaka. Between 1968 and 1971 Tange published the “Tokaido-Megalopolis theory -The Japanese Island Kingdom of the Future”. In this work he argues for integrating the large urban areas on Japan's East Coast - Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya - to form a unitary region, a megalopolis. The basis of this concept was the improvement of the infrastructure, the linking of elementary structures and the construction of generous traffic solutions. Tange even produced plans for individual buildings - such as the press and telecommunications centre in Kofu and an office building for the Dentsu company within the Tsukiji project. These were all structural models which theoretically allowed later extensions in all dimensions, and were part of an overall structure. During the eighties, Tange received many awards (including the Pritzker Prize) and he was named president of the Japan Architects Association and of the Japan Institute of Architects.

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The Osaka World Exposition 1970
Kenzo Tange
Year: 1970City: OsakaCountry: Japan
Duration: 5 March - 13 September 1970



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