The Formwork

West of Japan / East of Europe

The exhibition “West of Japan / East of Europe” is devoted to the only existing project that Bruno Taut realized during his three-year stay in Japan, Hyuga Villa (Kyu Hyuga Bettei) in Atami, built in 1936. His project embodies a deeply personal reflection on Japanese architecture, mediated through Taut‘s European sensibility. The result represents a unique example of cross-cultural breeding, which, at the time of its completion, stood at odds with mainstream Modernism in Europe on the one hand, and with the local architectural language on the other. The complete, detailed plans of Hyuga Villa are presented for the first time to the public, paired with large-format photographs by the architectural photographer Dave Clough. By juxtaposing drawings and pictures, we hope to immerse the visitor in the realm of Taut‘s architectural preoccupations: pondering about spatial proportions on one side, and Stimmung and materiality on the other.

Exhibitions archive

Feb. 2018, Stockholm

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Embassy of Norway
Feb. 8-9, 2018
09:00 am – 15:00 pm

Curated by: Marco Capitanio, Ole Rikard Høisæther
Photographs: Norwegian Embassy by Luca Ferrario, Hyuga Villa by Dave Clough
Under the auspices of: co+labo (Keio University)

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Watch the video of the exhibition.

The exhibition “West of Japan / East of Norway” attempts a daring architectural comparison. It juxtaposes for the rst time Knut Knutsen’s Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm and Bruno Taut’s Hyuga Villa in Atami, Japan. Knut Knutsen (Norwegian architect, 1903-1969) took inspiration from Japanese architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright – a connoisseur of Japan himself – for the design of his embassy building in Stockholm, realized between 1948 and 1952. We know this from his statements, documents and drawing references. Architectural historians have been emphasizing it for decades.

The Norwegian Embassy, brought back to its pristine condition after a careful renovation, comes to host photographs and drawings of Hyuga Villa, a likely source of inspiration to Knutsen, built in 1936. Thanks to a new photographic interpretation of the embassy building, the exhibit clarifies how a certain “Japanness” seeped into Knutsen’s design, presumably borrowing from Hyuga Villa, from Taut’s books on Japanese architecture, and from Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto (17th century).

Hyuga Villa and the Norwegian Embassy embody a personal reflection on Japanese architecture, mediated through European sensibilities. Bruno Taut (German architect, 1880-1938) lived from the growing Nazi movement in the mid 1930s in central Europe. His stay in Japan culminated in Hyuga Villa (Kyū Hyūga Bettei). Taut’s project was presented in the international French architectural magazine “L’architecture d’aujourdhui” in 1937, with a text written by the architect himself, paired with plans and photographs. The project, a cross- cultural breeding between European and local architectural language, was rediscovered in its full width thanks to exhibitions and symposia in 2016-17.

Knut Knutsen owned several books on Japanese architecture. One was “Japanische Architekur”, 1936, by Tetsuro Yoshida (Taut’s friend and collaborator), still in the family’s possession. It is more than likely that he also knew (or possessed) Taut’s books on the same subject. Knutsen was commissioned, together with the Norwegian architect Arne Korsmo, to design the Norwegian pavilion for the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. This was one of the reasons why he was a subscriber to “L’architecture d’aujourdhui” in the years before and after the exhibition. The presentation of Hyuga Villa in the 1937 magazine must have been of special importance to Knutsen, based on his general interest on Japanese-European relationships.

Taut was able to spend three years in the East, before settling in Istanbul, at the crossroad of oriental and western cultures. It is now our intention to show how his legacy travelled to the North thanks to Knutsen, as his readings must have brought inspiration all the way to the Norwegian Embassy in Stockholm or so it seems.

Dec. 2017, Milan

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Galleria del Progetto
Scuola di Architettura Urbanistica Ingegneria delle Costruzioni
Politecnico di Milano, via Ampère 2
Dec. 13, 2017 – Jan. 12, 2018
Mon–Fri 9.30 am – 6.00 pm

Wed. Dec. 13, 2017, 6pm
Introduction: Ilaria Valente, Marco Imperadori
Presentations: Marco Capitanio, Dave Clough
Under the auspices of: Orsina Simona Pierini, Marco Biraghi
Curated by: Marco Capitanio
Photographs: Dave Clough

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Oct. 2017, Suzhou

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Department of Architecture, Design Building (DB)
Xi‘an Jiaotong-Liverpool University
111 Ren‘ai Road, Suzhou Industrial Park 215123
Oct. 18, 2017

West of Japan/East of Europe
2:45. Pierre-Alain Croset (XJTLU), Opening of the Symposium
2:55. Paolo Scrivano (XJTLU), “Carrying architecture around the world: circulation, translation, adaptation”
Respondent: Yiping Dong (XJTLU)
3:20. Marco Capitanio (Keio University, Tokyo), “Hyuga Villa: translation in architecture” Respondent: Tordis Berstrand (XJTLU)
3:45. Darko Radović (Keio University, Tokyo), “Living radical cultural difference, thinking about Taut’s efforts to enter Japan”
Respondent: Glen Wash (XJTLU)
4:10. Dave Clough (Rockland ME, USA), “Photographing historic structures in Japan” Respondent: Pierre-Alain Croset
4:35. Puay-peng Ho (National University of Singapore), “Form and narrative: modernism and identity of Chinese architecture in early 20th century”
Respondent: Jiawen Han (XJTLU)
5:00. Projection of: “Kengo Kuma in conversation with Darko Radović, Marco Capitanio, and Satoshi Sano on Bruno Taut and the Hyuga Villa in Atami” (approx. 26 minutes)

Bruno Taut’s Hyuga Villa in Atami, Japan
5:30. Pierre-Alain Croset, Marco Capitanio, Darko Radović

Opening of the exhibition
Presented by: XJTLU, Department of Architecture
Organized by: Paolo Scrivano

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Apr. 2017, Yokohama

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Raiosha (Gallery Space), Keio University Hiyoshi Campus
4-1-1 Hiyoshi, Kohoku-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 223-8521,
Mon – Fri 9.00 am – 7.00 pm

International symposium & Opening:
Wed. Apr. 22 2017, 3.00 pm
Guests: Prof. M. Speidel (RWTH Aachen), Prof. T. Tanaka (Ochanomizu University), Y. Takishita (President: Association Preserving Old Japanese Farmhouses – APOF), S. Enbutsu (APOF; Bunkyo Link for Architectural Preservation), Dave Clough (photographer)
Hosts: Prof. Darko Radović & Marco Capitanio (Keio University)

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Sep. 2016, Venezia

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Spazio espositivo Gino Valle, IUAV, Cotonificio
Dorsoduro 2196, 30123 Venezia

International symposium & Opening
Fri. 9 Sep. 2016, 3.00 pm
featuring an exclusive video-interview with Kengo Kuma

Watch the whole IUAV symposium on our Youtube playlist.

Photographs by: Dave Clough

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