Junzo Sakakura (1901-1969) was a Japanese architect, a disciple of Le Corbusier and the former president of Japan Institute of Architects. To the public, he is perhaps best known for having designed Japan’s national pavilion for the 1937 Exposition internationale des Arts et des techniques in Paris, which won him the Grand Prix thus, making him the first Japanese architect to be recognised at an international level. Subsequently, he was crucial in launching the modernist movement in Japan, with the Museum of Modern Art in Kamakura, Japan being a fitting example of his contribution to innovation in Japanese architecture.
Now, a free exhibition at the Maison de la culture du Japon in Paris (the MCJP), titled Junzô Sakakua : une architecture pour l’homme (Junzo Sakakura: An architecture for humans), pays homage to the work and life of Junzo Sakakura who throughout his life placed humans at the centre of architectural design. On view until June 8, 2017, the exhibition shows a large selection of plans, videos, models and photographs and is an excellent opportunity to discover (or rediscover) Sakakura’s wide-ranging contribution to architecture, city planning, public infrastructure and furniture design.
Junzo Sakakura’s formative years in Paris
Born in 1901 in the Gifu prefecture, Junzo Sakakura moved to Paris in 1929 after graduating from the Art History Department of Tokyo Imperial University (now University of Tokyo). He joined Le Corbusier’s Atelier in 1931 where he would work on several ambitious projects which focused on the social dimension of architecture, placing the needs of the building’s users and inhabitants at the forefront. It was in this context that Junzo Sakakura was introduced to the modernist movement, which in turn inspired the design of Japan’s national pavilion as well as his subsequent projects in Japan. The first part of the exhibition examines Sakakura’s formative years in Paris and his relationship with Le Corbusier as well as with other architects, intellectuals and creators who played an influential role in the development of his architectural philosophy.