Application proposals from Japan
Keywords:international architectural competition, theater reform, constructivism, Japanese architects, 1930
Even although the International Competition for the State Ukrainian Theater (1930) did not result in any construction, it was a major landmark of Modernism in Ukrainian architecture. The competition received 144 entries from Soviet Union states and other countries, including four individual and one team proposals from Japan. Of these, Renshichiro Kawakita, a 29-year-old architect from Japan, was awarded the fourth prize and ranked higher than world-famous architects and designers like Walter Gropius, Norman Bel Geddes, and Hans Poelzig. This article deals with the modernist architectural scene in Japan around 1930 by introducing Japanese modernist architects’ applications to the competition. The structure of this paper is as follows: The introduction presents the four groups of applicants from Japan, and highlights the tense shipping deadline faced by Kawakita based on a retrospective by his collaborator. The main part points out that the proposal from Japan understood the organizer’s purpose to seek new ideas for theaters as cultural facilities for the proletariat via this competition, and designed it in line with that purpose. In this regard, Kawakita’s effective presentation in the drawings led to his prize. It also examines Kawakita’s architectural philosophy based on his comments after winning the prize. Kawakita praised functionalism and anti-aesthetics and believed that new architects should be engineers (rather than artists) with “inventor” nuances. This idea resonates with the international avant-garde ideas of the time in modernist architecture.