Kenzo Tange

February 3, 2016 tanjerene

Kenzo Tange

Architect Kenzo Tange

from Osaka (大阪市), Osaka (大阪府) in Japan (日本)

  • 7-15-7 Roppongi, Minato-ku Shin-Roppongi Building 9th floor,Tokyo, Japan
  • Tokyo 106-0032, Japan
  • +81-3-5413-2811
  • +81-3-5413-2211


Architect Type


Birth Year


Other Name

丹下 健三

Name Language



Osaka, Japan (日本)

Description, Philosophy, History

Kenzo Tange was a Japanese architect from Osaka, Japan. He was the winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture and one of the most significant architects of the 20th century. He combined traditional Japanese styles with modernism. Tange was also an influential patron of the Metabolist movement. He said: "It was, I believe, around 1959 or at the beginning of the sixties that I began to think about what I was later to call structuralism".
After finishing middle school, Tange moved to Hiroshima in 1930 to attend high school. It was here that he first encountered the works of Swiss modernist, Le Corbusier. In 1935 Tange began the tertiary studies at the University of Tokyo's architecture department.
The modular expansion of Tange's Metabolist visions had some influence on Archigram with their plug-in mega structures. The Metabolist movement gave momentum to Kikutake's career. Although his Marine City proposals (submitted by Tange at CIAM) were not realised, his Miyakonojo City Hall (1966) was a more Metabolist example of Tange's own Nichinan Cultural Centre (1962). Although the Osaka Expo had marked a decline in the Metabolist movement, it resulted in a "handing over" of the reigns to a younger generation of architects such as Kazuo Shinohara and Arata Isozaki.
Tange was a prime exemplar of the use of Brutalist architecture. His use of Béton brut concrete finishes in a raw and undecorated way combined with his civic projects such as the redevelopment of Tokyo Bay made him a great influence on British architects during the 1960s. Brutalist architecture has been criticised for being soulless and for promoting the exclusive use of a material that is poor at withstanding long exposures to natural weather.

Born on 4 September 1913 in Osaka, Japan, Tange spent his early life in the Chinese cities of Hankow and Shanghai; he and his family returned to Japan after learning of the death of one of his uncles. In contrast to the green lawns and red bricks in their Shanghai abode, the Tange family took up residence in a thatched roof farmhouse in Imabari on the island of Shikoku.After graduating from the university, Tange started to work as an architect at the office of Kunio Maekawa. During his employment, he travelled to Manchuria, participating in an architectural design competition for a bank, and toured Japanese-occupied Jehol on his return. When the Second World War started, he left Maekawa to rejoin the University of Tokyo as a postgraduate student. He developed an interest in urban design, and referencing only the resources available in the university library, he embarked on a study of Greek and Roman marketplaces. In 1942, Tange entered a competition for the design of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere Memorial Hall. He was awarded first prize for a design that would have been situated at the base of Mount Fuji; the hall he conceived was a fusion of Shinto shrine architecture and the plaza on Capitoline Hill in Rome. The design was not realized.In 1946, Tange became an assistant professor at the university and opened Tange Laboratory. In 1963, he was promoted to professor of the Department of Urban Engineering.Tange's interest in urban studies put him in a good position to handle post war reconstruction. In the summer of 1946 he was invited by the War Damage Rehabilitation Board to put forward a proposal for certain war damaged cities; he submitted plans for Hiroshima and Maebashi. His design for an airport in Kanon was accepted and built, but a seaside park in Ujina was not.The Hiroshima authorities took a lot of advice about the city's reconstruction from foreign consultants and in 1947 Tam Deling, an American park planner, suggested to build a Peace Memorial and to preserve buildings situated near ground zero (directly below the explosion of the atomic bomb). In 1949 the authorities enacted the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Reconstruction Act, which gave the city access to special grant aid, and in August that year, an international competition was announced for the design of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.Work on the Peace Centre commenced in 1950. In addition to the axial nature of the design, the layout is similar to Tange's early competition arrangement for the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere Memorial Hall.The Peace Plaza is the backdrop for the museum. The plaza was designed to allow 50 thousand people to gather around the peace monument in the centre. Tange also designed the monument as an arch composed of two hyperbolic paraboloids, said to be based on traditional Japanese ceremonial tombs from the Kofun Period.In 1953 Tange and the architectural journalist and critic Noboru Kawazoe were invited to attend the reconstruction of the Ise Shrine. The shrine has been reconstructed every 20 years and in 1953 it was the 59th iteration. Normally the reconstruction process was a very closed affair but this time the ceremony was opened to architects and journalists to document the event. The ceremony coincided with the end of the American Occupation and it seemed to symbolise a new start in Japanese architecture. In 1961 when Tange and Kawazoe published the book Ise: Prototype of Japanese Architecture, he likened the building to a modernist structure: an honest expression of materials, a functional design and prefabricated elements.During the 1970s and 1980s Tange expanded his portfolio to include buildings in over 20 countries around the world. In 1985, at the behest of Jacques Chirac, the mayor of Paris at that time, Tange proposed a master plan for a plaza at Place d'Italie that would interconnect the city along an east-west axis.For the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, which opened in 1991, Tange designed a large civic centre with a plaza dominated by two skyscrapers. These house the administration offices whilst a smaller seven-storey building contains assembly facilities. In his design of a high tech version of Kofu Communications Centre, Tange equipped all three buildings with state-of-the-art building management systems that monitored air quality, light levels and security. The external skin of the building makes dual references to both tradition and the modern condition. Tange incorporated vertical and horizontal lines reminiscent of both timber boarding and the lines on semiconductor boards.Architect Tange continued to practice until three years before his death in 2005. He disliked postmodernism in the 1980s and considered this style of architecture to be only "transitional architectural expressions". His funeral was held in one of his works, the Tokyo Cathedral.He died on 22 March 2005.


School Attended:
University of Tokyo, Japan


Architecture Style

Architecture Services

Building Technology

"Metabolism"Metabolism or in Japanese, メタボリズム, was a post-war Japanese architectural movement that fused ideas about architectural mega-structures with those of organic biological growth. It had its first international exposure during CIAM's 1959 meeting and its ideas were tentatively tested by students from Kenzo Tange's MIT studio.


Architectural Institute of Japan best picture award (Ehime Prefectural Museum) (1954)
Architectural Institute of Japan Special Award (National Indoor Stadium) (1965)Order of Culture (1980)Architectural Institute of Japan Award (1986)for contributions to the international development and establishment of modern architecture in Japan.Prince Takamatsu Memorial World Culture Prize in the building sector category (1993)Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure (1994)Third rank in the order of precedence (2005)
United States Institute of Architects, United States of America (AIA) 1st Pan-Pacific Ocean Award (1958)RIBA Gold Medal (1965)U.S. AIA Gold Medal (1966)Vatican Order of St. Gregory the Great (1970)French Academy of Architecture Gold Medal (1973)Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1976)Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (1979)U.S. Pritzker Prize (1987)Knight of the Legion of Honour of France (1996)