Japan was devastated by the Second World War. Over four million houses were destroyed, and after the war there was a major rebuilding effort. With so many homes needed as quickly as possible, there was a lot of experimentation with modular buildings, prefabrication, and new materials. There was also a revolution in style. Traditional Japanese forms were associated with the nationalism that had led the country to war, and there was a renegotiation between traditional ways of life and modernism.
The result of this cultural overhaul and rapid reconstruction was an architectural vibrancy that is quite unique to Japan. It is currently being celebrated in an exhibition at the Barbican, and I went along this week to see what I could learn about sustainable homes.
Despite the ancient Japanese values of harmony and connection with nature, the architecture on show here also contains a big warning about what not…
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