Setouchi (Seto Inland Sea) Studio

The Seto Inland Sea in western Japan has historically been an active location for trade, marine activities, fishing industries and tourism. The bay, which boasts a natural beauty, is dotted with significant sites. The area’s governments, businesses and cultural institutions were the first to patronize Modernist architecture after World War II.

These supporters were united by a shared desire to create a new identity—modern and democratic—for a society devastated by the War. The result is a rich architecture with a unique combination of Western influence and Japanese tradition, sculptural expressions as well as demonstrating technological advances in structure and material use. 

The studio will first study the context and history, placing particular focus on the prefecture of Kagawa and its prominent patronage of architecture, culture, and arts. Kagawa commissioned Kenzo Tange to design its governmental office building in 1958—which retains its original use—and more recently, has privately developed Naoshima, Teshima, and Inushima, becoming an international destination for contemporary art and architecture. The government also commissioned Tange to design a Gymnasium in 1964, the same year as Yoyogi National Gymnasium. As is often the case for architectural masterpieces of the 20th century, many of these buildings have lost their original purpose. Though the usage became obsolete, each retains its powerful iconic presence and Tange’s Gymnasium is no exception.

In this studio, we will imagine a new program for the gymnasium re-aligning it within the region’s society into the future. We will utilize our access to the Tange archive in Loeb Library for primary research material. We will begin by analyzing the building’s original context to re-contextualize and re-situate it within contemporary life. The studio objective for each student will be to come up with a proposal for the Gymnasium’s future use. Evaluation will be based on the rigor of initial research and analysis, the imagination and assessment of future programming and its narrative, and the thoroughness of the design proposal.