Hiroshima/1945-1951/The Correlation between CIAM 8 and Kenzo Tange’s Reconstruction Plan

The correlation between the CIAM (Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne) and the reconstruction plan for Hiroshima proposed by Kenzo Tange is undeniably high, as the Tange’s design was celebrated by Western critics as a masterpiece of modernist architecture and an exemplary creation of an urban core.1 In fact, this passage aims to focus on the CIAM 8 which was held in Hoddesdon, twenty miles from London in July, 1951.1

‘The Heart of the City’ was set as the title of the 8th CIAM.1 Being the first CIAM after the end of World War II, many reconstruction projects for the destroyed urban centres were presented and put on table to discuss, namely the heart projects for Coventry and Lausanne. However, the most emblematic and intense reconstruction project, which resumed the power between symbol, monument and heart in a good effect, was the reconstruction plan designed by Kenzo Tange.2 In particular, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

It was said that Tange questioned himself to rethink ‘the fundamental attitude towards existence’, which was also demonstrated as a tragic and dramatic attempt in his project.2 As Hiroshima was seriously damaged due to the influence of atomic bomb, it was historically a horrible signature of war destruction. Hence, Tange tried to spread the message of ‘standing for peace and demonstrating it to the world by moulding their ruined community into a monument of permanent peace’.2

In short, the reconstruction design proposed by Kenzo Tange included a Peace Hall, a Peace Park, a Peace Boulevard and international hotels, which lied on an axil grid having the memorial cenotaph as the centre of development.1 The whole site of development is a comprehensive project which not only provide new buildings with specific programmes or infrastructural needs, but the whole picture of the development was trying to create the symbol and sense of peace – that people called Hiroshima the ‘Peace City’.

In fact, the ‘Peace City’ reconstruction was one of the issues being discussed in CIAM 8. Elaborations have been made on the way that ‘the heart of the city’ remained as an abstract form of symbolism, or whether the translation from it into a collective social-spatial form which could help to promote the sense of spiritual peace to the citizens and as a demonstration to the world. On top of this agenda, Tange also emphasized on the meaning of symbol as ‘an important sybject in architecture or in the arts’, as well as rethinking ‘what is the symbol of the day, where the symbol reveals itself, and how the symbol is created’.2 Furthermore, it was mentioned in CIAM 8 that the reconstruction of ‘total relationships’, filled with human emotions, by the symbolic meaning of Heart was important as well.2

It was seen that the CIAM which was first kind of dominated by the Western theories and discussions, put a focus on the Japanese redevelopment project after the World War II, which could be considered as the initial point where Asian architecture were being mentioned. Nevertheless, after meeting with Le Corbusier, Kenzo Tange was convinced of the viability of his Hiroshima reconstruction plan.3 CIAM and the plan were undeniably interrelated.

  1. Ockman, Joan. Out of ground zero: case studies in urban reinvention. New York, NY: Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University, 2002.
  1. Leonardo Zuccaro Marchi. “CIAM 8. The Heart of the City as the symbolical resilience of the city.” CIAM 8. The Heart of the City as the symbolical resilience of the city, 2016th ser., 17, no. 2, 135-44.
  2. “Kenzo Tange : architect biography.” Accessed December 7, 2016. http://www.bing.com/cr?IG=EA4501F0849845EF87AAA4BF333FFE99&CID=1BDAAA4E31ED63E327FEA3BE30DC623E&rd=1&h=TmlF5-02zQJOBJj-xbs6o7nieN3Xg-tFw8pCYIwDUvE&v=1&r=http%3a%2f%2farchitect.architecture.sk%2fkenzo-tange-architect%2fkenzo-tange-architect.php&p=DevEx,5134.1.

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