Hiroshima/ Social Human Scale

“I had a chance to visit apartment houses in Marseilles designed by Le Corbusier. I felt overwhelmed standing under the piloti, which I thought was created in social human scale… ..Then I went back to Japan and was surprised to find the one-story-house townscape in Maru-no-uchi or Ginza extraordinary humanlike. The dwarfed rows of houses made me feel oppressed and suffocated.” by Kenzo Tange


Le Corbusier was one of the biggest influence of Tange for the planning of the Memorial Peace Park. The famous Unite d’Habitation designed by Corbusier was the trigger to the uprise of social human scale in the planning of the park. The social human scale integrates a form of gathering that separates the space from the individual and the focus is mainly on a greater whole. It was the direct opposite of the ideals of CIAM at that moment that placed on a focus on a human scale, with the consideration for the vital needs of an individual instead of the whole.

The Memorial Peace Museum on the Park was a clear notion of the social human scale. The building is being raised up such that the ground plane is entirely free, which formed an axis to the A-bomb dome as an important link to the entire site.

Memorial Peace Museum
Figure 1 clearly shows the scale of the Museum that is beyond the human scale. The use of grid windows, layout of the structural framework of exposed concrete, and division of the glass facade by horizontal and vertical layers of cement was a clear sign of Le Corbusier’s influence on the design.


Besides that, “the notion of social human scale also encompasses the idea of the process of a city from the viewpoint of urban and social development where patterns and technological means were often coupled with urban and political ideals as a symbolic representation”. The freeing up of space that created an axis had an underlying characteristic, it provided an external connection back into the city scape, which improved the traffic flow. This transition to a new aesthetic provided a meaning to the park, the park became the  new symbol of culture, it was not only a space of the social human scale, but also a new symbol and identity to the people of Hiroshima.



1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum & Park; http://www.arch-hiroshima.net/

2.  Chown, Christopher; The Metabolist Movement and Postwar Japan

3. Zhongjie Lin, “City as process: Kenzo Tange and the Japanese urban utopias, 1959-1970” University of Pennsylvania, 2006. Page 1

1 Comment on “Hiroshima/ Social Human Scale

  1. As a first monumental urbanist project built in Japan after Hiroshima bombing, Kenzo Tange’s out-of-human approach to the scale is quite inevitable. The function of the park and the building is to console, not inhabit; therefore, to enhance the monumentality of the Memorial Peace Park, architecture is designed so that they are a few times larger than the scale an individual is comfortable with. In such case it is successful in terms of its use of scale.

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