Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Axial Composition

Kenzo Tange and his group won the first prize at the 1949 Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park competition. The opportunity allowed him to construct the park as the core of Hiroshima in the later development. The initial concept of the park intended to portray the narration of the tragic history. 2 axes intercepted at the Atomic-bomb dome and extended outward to the adjacent areas. Along the north-south axis, the main facilities, the Atomic-bomb Dome, the cenotaph, the plaza, and the Peace Memorial Complex, were aligned. The arrangement in this manner allowed the visitors to experience the sequence chronologically, from the future to the past.

From the plan, Tange’s obsession with symmetrical placement and axial composition could be found. Using the axes to define the park sections, the Exhibition hall was placed right on the central axis as the entrance to the complex. Beside the museum building, one the east and west side, the International Conference Center and Main Hall were placed on the same alignment.

Figure 1. Tange, Kenzo. Prizewinning Proposal for the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Site Plan. 1949. Photograph.


Behind the main entrance, the constructed paths formed an hourglass shape on the plan. These were arranged according to the main intercepting axes. Visitors would be able to access the facilities in the intended order by walking along these paths. Eventually, the paths from the east and west intercepted at the core of the park, the Atomic-bomb dome. Even though the paths beside the hourglass-shaped paths were curved along with the topography, the linear paths in the middle were able to portray the emphasize on this axial composition.

The notion of this composition was further applied to the landscape components. The north section of the hourglass, the placement of the trees on the initial plan was arranged symmetrically, forming a grid throughout the scoped area. Outside of the park area, they were also arranged in a linear format to imply a border between the areas.

The arrangement of the structures was developed in 2 ways, axial and topographic composition. The axial composition occurred on the core part of the park, covering the main facilities and significant historical marks. On both sides of the core, the paths and trees were composed along with the topography. The contrast between these 2 revealed the positions that Tange wanted to emphasize, differentiating the reconstructed structures from the bombing and the affected surrounding. Thus, the use of different compositions was able to depict the changes.



Cho, Hyunjung. “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Making of Japanese Postwar Architecture.” Journal of Architectural Education, December 4, 2012, 72–83.

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

Ishimaru, Norioki. “Studies on the Relation to Plan-Making of Conception of Hiroshima Peace City Construction Plan after the Winning of Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park Competition by Kenzo Tange.” The 18th International Planning History Society Conference, July 2018.


1 Comment on “Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park: Axial Composition

  1. Kenzo Tange’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial park is one of the first and most appreciated conservation projects in all of Japan. Tange’s design methodology is often described as “a new perspective” for post-war architecture by scholars.

    Hiroshima’s urban identity is filled with memorial monuments. These monuments are often seen as a hybrid of both urban nodes of open social spaces, as well as the historic conservation projects. Over the last half-century opening to the post-war era, the Japanese national government concentrated on numerous conservation policies for the ‘protection of cultural and historic properties.

    Your entry provides an enlightening analysis of Tange’s symmetrical obsession and composition. Perhaps an interesting continuation of this entry could cover the transition of war to the post-war era of Hiroshima is affected by Tange’s Hiroshima memorial park.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.