Chapter 2 Tradition and Creativity: From Classic to Modern
The second value that my father held is the relationship between tradition and creativity. Japanese architecture has a distinctive style of form, shape, and tradition, carried down through the ages. But, of course, time moves on. In my father’s day, steel-reinforced concrete and other advanced technology and materials became available. The term “modernism” is often used in relation to our work, but in our design process, we always start with an understanding of tradition and then consider how to express it as we adapt to the present age. In other words, we pursue the modern after achieving a clear understanding of tradition and culture. A Modernist is a person with a deep understanding and appreciation of history. Whether the objective is to tear down or to go beyond what has been created in the past, without the knowledge of what went before, neither objective can be successfully achieved.
Tange Associates’ history is exemplified by taking on the challenge of discovering how to integrate Japan’s traditional aspects with contemporary society and modern living spaces. In some cases, this means using new materials such as concrete; in others it means using steel frames, while in still others it means using glass, all the while aiming to maintain distinctive Japanese subtlety in the architecture. This applies to both the thinking process and to the methodology. As an example, in the Kagawa Prefectural Office, concrete expresses traditional Japanese architecture of eaves and a post-and-beam frame to deliver subtlety that in times past would have been expressed by wood.
However, in contrast to Kenzo Tange’s era when society as a whole developed dynamically, our current era is much more individualistic. Although most of what we inherited from Kenzo Tange is enduring, the environment surrounding architecture and the aspirations of people have changed. This is the reason we added a plus sign “+” after DNA. Always remembering our origins, we uphold the foundation and basis of our inheritance while adapting our work to keep with the times. We value our tradition as we engage in creating work for the modern era. That is TANGE DNA+.
Always mindful of the foundation and basis of our inheritance, we work to create architecture that is in accordance with the times.