Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall

JA+U : Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall by Kenzo Tange © Shinkenchiku-sha

Originally featured in the January 1959 issue of Shinkenchiku (New Architecture), Kenzo Tange’s Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall was an addition to an existing municipal building. It is composed of a square eight-story administrative office tower alongside a low-rise, rectangular, legislative assembly hall. Both are built in reinforced concrete.

JA+U : Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall by Kenzo Tange © Shinkenchiku-sha

The two buildings are positioned in an L-shape, partially framing a central courtyard that takes its inspiration from temple gardens. The square administrative volume is supported by a central core, which alleviates exterior structure. The building emulates traditional Japanese wooden architecture, fusing this inherent simplicity with modernist rationality.

JA+U : Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall by Kenzo Tange © Shinkenchiku-sha

The complex is entered from the street by walking beneath the legislative building supported on two-story high politis. This gate-like structure also connects the entrance lobby of the administrative unit to the existing complex.

Makoto Takei and Chie Nabeshima of TNA explain that the work inspired them because it is a good example of a building raised on pilotis in Japanese civic architecture. They’ve incorporated a similar concept, albeit on a smaller scale, into the recent Spread House which hovers within a forest in Nagano.

JA+U : Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall by Kenzo Tange © Shinkenchiku-sha

The administrative building is also lifted above the ground. Inside is a two-story high glazed entrance lobby. Activity on the street is visible across the courtyard, beneath the other building. As Takei and Nabeshima point out, the building’s charm is preserved to this day because the original facades, furniture, and the important visual connection to the city remain intact.