Japanese architecture, sign up for free courses

Chichu Art Museum - Tadao Ando
Chichu Art Museum - Tadao Ando

The Japanese architect Tadao Ando has been asked to work on an extension of the Kröller-Müller museum in The Nederlands. Internationally, Ando is probably the best known figure in Japanese architecture. “Ando designs extremely meticulous buildings that show respect for nature and are enormously spacious”, said the spokesman for the Kröller-Müller museum on Architectenweb.

Tadao Ando Endeavours poster

For me, urban architecture is one of the motivations behind my little love affair with Japan. In 2017 I went to Ibaraki (near Osaka) to see Ando’s world famous “Church of the Light”, his museum on the island of Naoshima and the incredibly impressive retrospecitve exhibition “Tadao Ando: Endeavours” at the National Art Museum in Tokyo. This Spring I will take a guided tour of buildings in the Omotesando neighbourhood. 

“Four Facets of Contemporary Japanese Architecture” 

Are you interested in modern architecture? Then maybe you’ll enjoy the “Four Facets of Contemporary Japanese Architecture” course designed by Tokyo University. Ando and other en andere luminaries in Japanese architecture are featured in this course. You can do the course for free on the edX website. 

History of Japanese contemporary architecture

In this course you will learn about the history, ideas and concepts of contemporary architecture in Japan. The course covers four subjects and five generations of architects. Part one is all about theory. The course teachers are, among others, Professor Kengo Kuma who designed the beautiful “Culture Tourist Information Center” in Asakusa and the famous Starbucks at Dazaifu Tenman-gū (with its 2000 wooden batons creating a diagonally woven lattice stretching out beyond the building’s facade) and Professor Yusuke Obuchi of the faculty of architecture at the University of Tokyo.

Via the medium of video they teach you about the grandfather of Japanese modern architecture, Kenzo Tange. Other architects, like Arata Isozai and Terunobu Fujimori are interviewed on location, showing their impressive buildings and talking about the way they work and their influences inside and outside Japan.

One of the most fascinating notions discussed is that Japanese architects aren’t bothered by European prejudices or rivalry: French architects are supposed to ignore Von der Rohe, and German architects pretend they don’t know Le Corbusier. Japanese architects are therefor said to be more objective about Western architecture.

Architecture courses

At the time of writing, the University of Tokyo is offering three different architecture courses on the edX website. Some of the material is archived, but you can still review it.

Sign up for a course

To sign up go to the course page on the edX.org website. You will have to register first to be able to see the course material.

Read more about Japanese architecture in out article about Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Enoura Observatory.

The picture above this story is the entrance to the Chichu museum on Naoshima designed by the architect Tadao Ando.