Contemporary Japanese Houses
"With the possible exception of woodblock prints, no phase of Japanese civilization has been so much admired or so frequently emulated as Japanese architecture, and particularly Japanese residential architecture. Though there have been periods in which Occidental writers and critics have been inclined to dismiss the traditional Japanese house as a flimsy creation of wood and paper, leading Western architects of the past six or seven decades have been almost unanimous in acclaiming its simplicity, its logical organization, its functionality, its openness, its flowing space, and its beautiful textures. The influence of the Japanese house has been especially strong in the United States, where it was a determining factor in the formation of such popular types as the bungalow and the ranch house, not to speak of the individual styles of such diverse architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Richard Neutra.
Over the past hundred years or so, the Japanese house, for its part, has been buffeted by Western influences. Though it was rather quick to adopt certain practical features of Western houses - glass window panes, electric lighting, modern sanitary facilities, and so on - until the Second World War, it remained surprisingly conservative in over-all style. The reasons suggested by the authors of this book is that despite the rapid Westernization of Japan in the latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Japanese home life, centered about a well-entrenched family system, failed to changed radically.
During the war and for several years afterward, Japanese architecture went to eclipse and when, in the early 1950's, Japan began to recover from her wounds, Japanese architects found themselves faced with the task of building for a society that had already changed much and was still changing rapidly. The family system was breaking down; the status of women was rising; the country was undergoing a rapid urbanization; there was a new emphasis on individual liberty and privacy. In the succeeding years, a second industrial revolution has changed the Japanese way of life perhaps even more than these social developments by causing a general rise in the living standard and by making available a wide variety of consumers' goods, including household equipment.
All of these developments have meant a new challenge to Japanese architects, and the purpose of this book is to show how they have gone about meeting it on the residential front. The authors have selected seventeen recent houses that they regard as exemplary of contemporary trends in the house design and have furnished a discussion of each house. To the discussions have been added luxuriously detailed illustrations, many in color, together with floor plans and, when necessary, elevations or drawings of details.
The book is aimed not merely at revealing architectural excellence, but at showing in graphic form how architects have met specific problems and situations that exist in Japan today. It will be valued not only by architects, who will find it rich with new ideas, but by house owners looking for ways to make their own houses more beautiful. It will also serve as documentary proof that for all the outward alterations, many of the architectural principles the world has long admired in Japanese houses are still alive today."
Kodansha International Ltd.
Architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright
Seike, Kiyoshi and Terry, Charles S., "Contemporary Japanese Houses" (1964). Frank Lloyd Wright Book Collection. 272.