The Okada House and gardens (1933)
Far East

Frank Lloyd Wright had been invited to design an Imperial Hotel (1914-22) in
Tokyo.   The delegation, which visited him in
Taliesen, was moved by the sympathy
Wright showed to Japanese building and culture. His most recent commercial
project was the
Midway Gardens, completed in 1913, which he used as the basis
for the plan of the hotel.  Although largely iconographic, the planning principles seem
drawn from ancient Japanese temple design.  The stones were dry-laid so that they
could shift with earth movements, and would survive a devastating earthquake.  

One of his assistants,
Antonin Raymond, a Czech-American, would remain in Tokyo
and design several buildings in the 20’s and 30’s.  His house (1923) was made of
reinforced concrete with the framing system recalling Japanese wooden
construction, a mannerism, which Kenneth Frampton noted, would become a
hallmark of Japanese architecture after WWII. The interiors recalled many of the
themes of the International Style.  But the overall profile of the house recalled some
of Wright’s earlier designs.

In 1926, a
Japanese Secession Group formed, led by Mamoru Yamada and
Tetsuro Yoshida.  An electrical station (1929) designed by Yamada was included in
the International Style exhibit in New York. By contrast,
Sutemi Horiguchi was drawn
to traditional patterns found in the Katsura Imperial Villa.  He, like other
traditionalists, felt that a new language could be found in the local vernacular, which
had served as an inspiration for Wright.  The
Okada House and gardens (1933) was
a highly refined interpretation of imperial villas, extending the lines of the house into
the enclosed garden.  But probably the most important Japanese figure to emerge
during this time was
Kunio Mayekawa, who briefly studied under Le Corbusier and
worked for Raymond.  He, along with
Junzo Sakakura, would provide much of the
intellectual foundation for the modern movement, which would develop after World
War II.  The resurgence of extreme nationalism in the late 1930’s and the breakout of
war put the modern movement on hold.

Bibliography

Curtis, William J.R., Modern Architecture since 1900, The Spread of Modern
Architecture to Britain and Scandinavia, Totalitarian Critiques of the Modern
Movement, The Diversity of a New Tradition, Modern Architecture in the U.S.A.:
Immigration and Consolidation, Phaidon, London, paperback edition 1996

Frampton, Kenneth,
Modern Architecture: A Critical History, The International Style:
theme and variations 1925-65, Thames and Hudson, London, paperback edition
1992

Giedion, Sigfried,
Space, Time and Architecture: The Growth of a New Tradition,
Alvar Aalto: Irrationality and Standardization, Harvard University Press, Cambridge,
Massachusetts, hardback edition 1969

Krausse, Joachim,
Your Private Sky: R. Buckminster Fuller, The Dymaxion House,
Lars Müller Publishers, Baden, Switzerland, 1999

McCarter, Robert,
Frank Lloyd Wright, The Courtyard Public Space, Phaidon,
London, paperback edition, 2001

Underwood, David,
Oscar Niemeyer and the Architecture of Brazil, Free-Form
Modernism, Rizzoli, New York, paperback edition, 1994

Weston, Richard,
Alvar Aalto, Functionalism and Beyond, Phaidon, London,
paperback edition, 1997

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Raymond House, Tokyo (1923)
Modern Architecture Expands its Boundaries
The Diversity of a New Tradition