The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945

Barbican Art Gallery

23 March – 25 June 2017

£12 with National Art Pass (standard entry £14.50)

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Presenting the work of more than 50 architects, this exhibition explores the dramatic upsurge of building borne out of Second World War destruction in Japan.

To truly appreciate the levels of innovation behind contemporary Japanese architecture and design, it is necessary to cast an eye back to the post-war period when the country’s major cities were left in a state of devastation. Due to an extreme shortage of housing and lack of funding, the government encouraged people to purchase land and build their own houses, giving them the chance to completely rethink the function of the home and adapt it to modern family life.

What followed all over the nation was the rapid rise of single-family dwellings, not intended to last more than 20 years or so due to the ever-present threat of earthquakes. To this day, the constant cycle of knocking down and rebuilding houses still dominates, fuelling the creation of increasingly radical spaces.

From the country with the highest proportion of architects relative to its population, the exhibition carefully selects the most prestigious designers to chart the evolution of Japanese architecture from the post-war period to the present day. With a staging by the prominent Tokyo-based firm Atelier Bow-Wow, visitors can piece together a comprehensive history through photographs and films, blueprints and models, life-size recreations of iconic buildings, and even a selection of manga cartoons.

Venue information

Opening times

Art Gallery
Daily, 11am – 8pm (Thu & Fri until 9pm)

The Curve
Daily, 10am – 6pm (Thu & Fri until 9pm)

Closed 24-28 Dec and 1 Jan

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)