Kenzo Tange’s Participation in the Reconstruction of Hiroshima with his Urban Utopian Thinking (1947)

Soon after the atomic bomb in 1946, Tange went to Hiroshima at the request of the War Damage Rehabilitation Board and became a member of the Government Agency for Reconstruction.  He volunteered to work on the contaminated site of the nuclear blast and was put in charge of the Hiroshima survey team to evaluate the destruction of the city by the atomic bomb.  With the intent to rebuild the near-total destructed city, the City of Hiroshima came up with reconstruction plans that included various parks and roads (Figure 1).  The Nakajima Park was one of the major proposed parks and has an area of 10.72 hectares.  It is located near the hypocenter of the city and is the site of the design competition of the Peace Memorial Park that took place two years after. Upon witnessing the ravaged city of Japan, Tange saw a rare opportunity to implement a radical new order without the restraints of an existing urban structure and land ownership. He called for a “new tradition” for Japanese architecture and attempted to shift the Japanese architectural characteristics from the emphasis on traditional prewar elements to a more abstract search for “spirit” after war. He proposed a utopian project that was based on a functional zoning system with an emphasis on green areas, which featured a large-scale park complex near the atomic bomb’s epicenter. His land-use plan was partially integrated in the official Hiroshima Reconstruction Plan of 1947.

Figure 1. Parks proposed in the 1946 postwar reconstruction plan of Hiroshima

In 1949, a design competition for the Peace Memorial Park was announced in an architectural journal, and the competition aimed to respond to the worldwide movement for the establishment of a symbolic peace city and to revitalize the city centre.  Kenzo Tange attained the first prize of the competition with his utopian reconstruction plan proposed in 1947, and it was eventually developed into the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The park was the first official attempt to commemorate the unprecedented use of the atomic bomb and the end of the destructive war, and is a monument that symbolizes a new beginning for the city (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Announcement of the winner of the design competition for the Peace Memorial Park – Team of Kenzo Tange

Bibliography

Ishimaru, N. (1993). Changes in Planning Zone of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Proposed by Kenzo Tange and their significances, 15th International Planning History Society Conference. Pg 2-10.

Carola, H. (2003). Rebuilding Urban Japan after 1945. Palgrave Macmillan, Pg 87.

Lin, Z. (2006). City as Process: Tange Kenzo and the Japanese Urban Utopias, 1959-70. Tange’s Postwar Transition and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. Pg 69-73.

Sendai, S. (2013). Conception of Hiroshima Peace Park Project by Kenzo Tange. J. Archit. Plann., AIJ. Vol 78. No. 693. 2409-2416.

1 Comment on “Kenzo Tange’s Participation in the Reconstruction of Hiroshima with his Urban Utopian Thinking (1947)

  1. The approach to reconstruct the city after war by giving more parks and roads to the people seems to be a good way to also reconnect the people. The city must be in great depression and low-productivity after the war, therefore gathering peoples’ heart and reassuring to them the city is a safe place to live are of great importance. Echoing with the title of the blog post, a certain utopian thinking I believe is effective in the restoration of a city from this kind of destruction.

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