ARCH 3308/6308
Shinohara Kazuo and Contemporary Architecture in Japan

modern white room with living and dining furniture

Shinohara Kazuo, House in White interior. photo / Murai Osamu

  • Instructor: Angela Pang
  • Time: Th 2:30–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: 144 East Sibley Hall
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Discourse

In postwar Japan, Shinohara Kazuo and Tange Kenzō independently established the two most influential and consequential schools of architectural thought. While Metabolism's techno-rationalist determinism dominated architectural discourse, Shinohara stayed true to his belief that, "A house is a work of art." This famous declaration is coupled with the leitmotif in modernism that interprets traditional Japanese houses as being about simplicity, balance, and abstraction. Known as the Shinohara School, his works have become the basis of many of the most exciting contemporary architecture, such as the works of Ito Toyō, Hasegawa Itsuko, Sakamoto Kazunari, Sejima Kazuo, Nishizawa Ryue, Tsukamoto Yoshiharu, and Ishigami Junya. Shinohara's importance has extended internationally capturing the attention of Rem Koolhaas and Herzog and de Meuron, and greatly influencing the works of Valerio Olgiati and Christian Kerez and many more.

This class will be structured as a series of case studies starting from Shinohara's early houses, from his first to fourth styles, and onto his later large urban scale projects that he described as "ModernNext." Chronology is an important aspect of his work and we will be studying his houses in sequences to understand how he developed his architectural ideas linearly through each project. We will also situate this development in the works of contemporary Japanese architects as a framework to understand architecture in Japan in recent decades.

There is an optional field trip to visit an exhibition on Shinohara, designed by myself, at Harvard GSD. Many of his original sketches, drawings, and models are being shown for the first time and it is a unique opportunity to have this level of immersion in his works.

View a PDF of this class description.