Creat. Sp.

The Importance of Invisible Local Industrial and Social Aspects on The Modern Architectural Project: Evaluating An Example of A Community Centre of The 1950s In Japan

Yasunori Kitao

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Community Centre, Interior Development Projects-Post-war Period, Local Industries, Industrial Heritage

PUBLISHED DATE January 01, 2018
PUBLISHER The Author(s) 2018. This article is published with open access at

The purpose of this paper is to evaluate an example of modern architecture in Shiogama Japan. The evaluation is made in terms of the effect of local industry and local community movements in relation to the transformation of Japanese society in the post-war period. As the ultimate purpose of the Modern Movement in Architecture is to benefit the common people, the current paper is focussed on the Community Centres that were built after Japan’s defeat in the Second World War. At that time, the Japanese society changed rapidly from a military regime to a democratic one. The Community Centre that is dealt with, in this paper was built in the early 1950s, so one can expect to find some aspects of building a democratic society behind the actual building project. Further the invisible and the intangible value of this Community Centre has been discussed in the period when the Japanese government promoted interior resources development projects. The purpose of this research is to understand some hidden historical values of the Community Centre, which represent not only the social phenomenon of that period, the architectural expression and technical aspects of the building but, also, the local industrial heritage. The paper also describes the importance of sustaining support for the local peoples’ activities by conserving this Community Centre and, then, explains how the Municipality of Shiogama decided to renovate this historical piece of modern architecture. Now, the former Community Centre has been re-born as a Community Centre and a Museum of Art for a local painter.


Thepurpose of this paper is to discuss the importance of the invisible and intangible aspects behind modern architectural works since the Second World War. Thesemodern projects should be evaluated by the people for whom the architect had designed, the citizens who are still alive or, citizens who are able to write or say something about the project according to their experiences – all these becoming testimonies. However, it would not be easy for ordinary citizens to evaluate a piece of modern architecture scientificall , even though they have used the buildings in their daily lives, as most of them have not been trained in scientific methods. On the other hand, third party – scientificobservers, do not have enough real experience of the particular project to figu e out these invisible “facts”, because they are not necessarily the users.

As scientific methodology must be reliable and verifiable,it has been taken care to focus only on the formal features of the structure and, the philosophy of the architects, as being the visible “truth”. Most of the invisible “facts” in terms of the social and industrial conditions, which led to the establishment of these modern architectural projects, have naturally disappeared or lost with the passing of time. As revisiting the past is impossible, nobody today is able to describe those important invisible “facts”, which were known and experienced by the citizens who were the users in the past. What is to be stressed here is that there is an everwidening gap between the visible “truth” and the “invisible facts” which constitute the evidence for evaluating these projects objectively and, as time passes, these important invisible “facts” may disappear completely. Evidence of this widening gap can be clearly understood if we compare the gap in understanding of the 20th century projects with those of the pre-20th century period.

Although these “invisible facts” may be regarded as poetry, what we, the scientists, can do for modern projects is to understand and illustrate these “facts” on behalf of the users – as only scientists using empirical methods can. The adoption of this process may provide an important feature that the study of modern architecture lacks, and may help to narrow the gap between our perception of a building from the designers’ point of view as the visible ‘truth’ and, the evaluation of that building from the users’ point of view, as the actual but now invisible “facts”. Theefore, the role of today’s scientists should be to investigate, formulate and, record the backgrounds to these projects – which are the invisible “facts”, which are closer to the reality than the visible “truth” – in order to compile a frame of reference for future projects. Thisis important as these invisible “facts” would otherwise be forgotten. Putting a value on discovering these invisible “facts” in our time will be an important contribution to the social value of future building projects. Thus,our team decided to focus on an investigation of the social and industrial backgrounds, which are not visible today, but which gave birth to a project.

Page(s) 81-90
ISSN Print : 2321-3892, Online : 2321-7154
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