Japanese architectures in Paris
In view of Sanaa’s ongoing rehabilitation of the Samaritaine department store, Sou Fujimoto’s mixed-use “Mille Arbres”, Kengo Kuma’s planned station for the Grand Paris Express or Tadao Ando’s installation of the Collection Pinault in the Bourse de Commerce, the impression arises that a growing number of Paris’ highest-anticipated projects is emerging from the drawing boards of some of the most notable Japanese architects.
What at first sight may seem like a recent phenomenon, is, in reality, the current climax of a historic presence of Japan’s architects in Paris. An early intellectual exchange, begun in Le Corbusier’s office in the 30s, intensified over the years and is – especially since the beginning of the 90s – increasingly diversifying the urban landscapes of both Paris and Greater Paris.
To date, this architecture has not yet been read in a linear way. The exhibition and publication Architectures japonaises à Paris, 1867–2017 not only inventories realized and upcoming projects, but also hundreds of proposals, competition entries, temporary installations, studies, and exhibitions, proving the persistence of an enduring dialogue between two cultures. The remarkable traces that the Japanese left in the French archives, enable reconstituting this narrative through a nearly unilateral research effort.
Examining the context of the creation and the evolution of each project, Architectures japonaises à Paris, 1867–2017 is not necessarily an exhibition and publication of Japanese architecture, but about Japanese architecture. Retracing the projects of its architects in Paris not only captures the architectural and urban history of the French capital, but is also able to re-narrate in broad lines the evolution of contemporary Japanese architecture.
Architectures japonaises à Paris, 1867–2017