At The Khalili Lecture Theatre SOAS
'Nihon to Seiyō – Japan and the West' by Neil Jackson (The University of Liverpool in London)
By using the five themes of Introduction, Adoption & Rejection, Connection, Interaction, and Assimilation, this lecture explores the architectural dialogue between Japan and the West from 1853 until the end of the twentieth century. Taking the story from the earliest houses built in Nagasaki for the oyatoi gaikokujin to late-twentieth-century work in Italy by Carlo Scarpa who, coincidentally, died in Japan, this lecture shows how the West gave Japan an architecture befitting a nascent world power while, at the same tome, Western architects sought to rescue from Japan just the qualities which the Japanese wished to reject.
Thus Tatsuno Kingo, in his National Bank building in Tokyo, emulated the ideas of the best banking houses of Europe while, at the same time, Charles Rennie Mackintosh brought a gritty simplicity to the art school that he was building in Glasgow. The importance of Le Corbusier to Japan is explored as is the Japanese influence on his own work, before the presence in Western architecture of ma, the charged void, is investigated. The lecture concludes with a brief Meditation on the architecture of Japan and the West and how the lessons learnt might be best and most easily applied today.
Professor Neil Jackson is an architect and architectural historian, and currently the President of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain. He has taught in Britain and the United States, and now holds the Charles Reilly Chair of Architecture at the University of Liverpool in London. He has published widely on the architecture of the Pacific Rim and his new book, Japan and the West: An Architectural Dialogue is due to be published by Lund Humphries early in 2019.
Photo: The Brion Cemetery at San Vito d’Altivole, Treviso, Italy, by Carlo Scarpa, 1972