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Survey on the actual situation of Japanese design archives

what is going on?Design archives of these people


National Archives of Modern Architecture, Agency for Cultural Affairs


Interview: September 3, 2020 13: 00-14: 30
Interview location: National Archives of Modern Architecture
Interviewees: Yasushi Asada (Deputy Director), Michio Kato (Chief Architectural Materials Surveyor), Satoshi Tarashima (Chief Architectural Materials Investigator) Interviewers: Yasuko Seki, Akiko Wakui
Writing: Akiko Wakui



The National Archives of Modern Architecture is an archive of architectural materials that was opened in 2013 with the aim of preventing the dissipation and outflow of materials related to modern Japanese architecture. Currently, in addition to urgent protection of historically valuable architectural materials, we are also exhibiting modern and contemporary architectural materials, including collections, investigating the location of architectural archives, and collaborating with institutions that have related materials.
The building of the museum is a refurbished and reused training facility of the Supreme Court in the Yushima Regional Joint Government Building adjacent to the former Iwasaki Residence Garden. The annex and the new building each have two floors and a total floor area of approximately 3,200 square meters. The building has an exhibition room, reading space, storage, laboratory, and conference room. The storage will secure space rented from the hall and other facilities, and architectural materials centered on drawings by Junzo Sakakura, Takamasa Yoshizaka, Masato Otaka, Jin Watanabe, Hideto Kishida, Shigeo Hirata, Yo Ikebe, etc. It stores about 115,000 items.
Architectural materials such as drawings and models produced by prominent Japanese modern and contemporary architects are a global cultural heritage that conveys an important process in Japan's modernization. However, while many major overseas countries have public archive institutions specializing in architecture, Japan did not have a system to protect and inherit those materials as a country. Therefore, due to a large number of transfer requests from overseas building archives, Japan's valuable building materials began to flow out of the country one after another, and the situation was in danger.
Against this background, the Cabinet decided on the "Basic Policy on the Promotion of Culture and Arts (Third Basic Policy)" in 2011, and recommended that the archives in the field of culture and art should be urgently developed. In the midst of these movements, the National Archives of Modern Architecture was established by the Agency for Cultural Affairs as an archiving organization for building materials.
Design archives also have similar problems such as dissipation, disposal, and outflow overseas, but there is no public institution that aggregates such information. In addition, academic research in the field of design lags behind architecture, and the fact that social and historical values are not widely disseminated also makes it difficult for archives to be preserved and inherited. Therefore, in order to obtain information that will be a clue for connecting the design archive to the next generation, we decided to talk about the methods of collecting, researching, and reusing materials at archive institutions in the field of architecture, and points to note.



国立近現代建築資料館 作品



The value of the material that the architect thinks,
With academic and social value as an archive
It is important to close the difference in recognition

Background of the establishment of the National Archives of Modern Architecture

 In the field of architecture, systematic archiving activities such as national museums like this and research institutes of universities are being promoted, but in the field of design, it has not reached that level. Therefore, I thought that I would like to refer to the collection activities of the architectural archive and the dissemination and enlightenment activities that make use of it, so I made time. First of all, could you explain the background behind the establishment of the National Archives of Modern Architecture?


Asada The hotel opened in 2013. In the field of architecture, at that time, materials such as drawings of world-famous architects were leaked overseas, and in this situation, valuable archives were being lost steadily. In 2011, the Council for Cultural Affairs reported that it was necessary to proceed from the possible fields toward the construction of an archive in the field of culture and art. As one of them, the museum was established as the first national archive institution in the field of architecture.


 Right next to it is the former Iwasaki House, an important cultural property, and Ueno, where you can reach out to gather national cultural facilities, is the best location for an architectural museum, but how did it come about? Is it?


Asada It was this place that I found when I was looking for a vacant facility owned by the country, considering the situation that I want to start up as soon as possible due to the urgency of protecting materials and the strict financial resources. is. Originally, the building was used as a judicial training center for the Supreme Court, and as you said, it was very good in terms of location, such as being adjacent to the modern architecture of the former Iwasaki House and being close to the concentration of cultural facilities. , I decided to repair and use this.



Collection activities in collaboration with academic experts


 How do you select and collect what is archived here?


Kato One of the collection policies of the museum is modern architecture in Japan. In the era, it is generally used as a material before 1990, before drawing creation was digitized. The second is that it has been highly evaluated both at home and abroad, and that it is related to architecture and architects who have markedly marked the times. For example, multi-award winning architects, collective activities such as the Metabolism movement.
Furthermore, from the perspective of "essential for understanding Japan's modern and contemporary architectural history and architectural culture," we are looking not only at buildings, but also at structures and technologies, and in some cases, architectural research and academic research. I have put it in. It is not possible to collect all of them, so we will collect those that can be judged to be historically, artistically, and academically important.
In addition, as the generations change, the architect's office will be closed or the architect's death will cause the materials to be dissipated. It is supposed to be.
Specific selections will be authorized by the Steering Committee, which is composed of outside academic experts, and the subcommittees under it.


 How is the committee on collecting materials organized?


Asada First, we have set up a steering committee to hear various opinions about the operation of the museum. The Steering Committee is composed of seven members, and three subcommittees, Planning, Collection, and Information, are set up under it, and opinions are heard from a more specialized standpoint. Regarding collection, the Steering Committee will refer the candidate materials to the Collection Subcommittee, and based on the results compiled there, the Steering Committee will decide whether or not the materials will eventually be collected at the museum. It will be in the form.


 Is there a set target value such as the number and timing of collections throughout the year?


Asada Unlike ordinary museums, the museum is based on donations rather than purchases, so there is no goal of collecting a certain amount annually. To the last, if the item is in a critical situation such as dissipation and the owner has indicated that it is worth donating, we will obtain the opinion of the Steering Committee and finally collect it. It is in the form of deciding whether or not.



Collected items are mainly hand-drawn drawings


 There are various architectural materials such as drawings and models, but what kind of items are collected here?


Kato There are overwhelmingly many drawings. In addition to the official drawings, we also collect drawings and sketches in the middle of the process. As for the model, the situation is that it is not very popular due to the storage space. Others include photographs, slides, microfilms, and reports stored at the architectural firm. For books, we only collect books that need to be supplementarily collected as part of the archive.


 I often hear that archives require a lot of effort and budget after collecting them, such as organizing, cataloging, and using them in research and exhibitions. How are they managed?


Tarashima As an archive-like survey, we will proceed with the survey step by step from a large group of materials to a smaller group, and finally create an item-level inventory of one drawing and one photo. Is the most ideal method. However, in reality, it is difficult to reach that level. That's because most of the time you can only know the number before accepting it, not the content.
So, for example, if one cylinder contains 50 drawings, what you can investigate immediately after accepting it is what the one cylinder is and how many drawings are in it. Up to that point. First of all, we are proceeding with the investigation, thinking that if we can publish the information at that stage as a list, we can contribute to the immediate use.
Of course, if the number is small, there are cases where you suddenly make a list of items and end up with that, but if it is a material from a large office, the number will be tens of thousands. The current situation is that it is very difficult for 4 to 5 people in charge to create a complete inventory from the beginning.


 It's difficult for 4 to 5 people to investigate that much score. Are all the people in charge full-time?


Tarashima Those who have learned architecture and those who have retired from an architectural firm are part-time. Basically, most architectural firms do most of the work, so there is no need to change the contents in detail, but to investigate a curled drawing, first flatten it. It takes a lot of work because you have to work.


Kato Basically, the flattened ones are digitized in some cases and put in a neutral paper box and stored in the storage room. Unorganized items are stored in the cylinder.



Difficult to store in everyday environment


 Are all storage locations in this building?


Asada We also rent a building from another facility and use it as a storage.


 I hear that materials are difficult to store, unlike works of art.


Tarashima Since it is stored and used in a completely different way from works of art, there is the problem that it must be stored in the most cost-effective way without taking too much effort. Therefore, it is very difficult because some of the storages can control humidity and the rest are stored in a daily environment.


 Is there a consultation from the architect who wants to donate his own?


Kato In some cases, we will call out to you in secret, and in some cases, the other party will ask you if there is a good storage location. If there is such a movement, we will make various adjustments here, and if it is judged that it can be collected, we will finally ask the opinion of the Steering Committee.


 How many consultations do you have each year?


Kato Not so many. I think that if the museum is made more known, there may be more consultations about not being able to maintain the materials on an ongoing basis.


Asada Since the collection of materials at this museum is mainly from the time when hand-drawn drawings were the main focus, it is said that the bereaved family members who have died are having more trouble keeping them than those who are currently active. It is also related to the fact that most of them are. We have gathered such information through our research and by experts, so we did not receive dozens of inquiries.



Advance research in conjunction with the exhibition


 Are exhibitions linked to architectural archives held on a regular basis?


Kato The exhibitions are roughly divided into special exhibitions and exhibitions focusing on the collections, which are held almost once a year. The special exhibitions, including the collections of the museum, are further expanded to collect related items from others.


 Does that mean that the exhibition is organized mainly by the subcommittee you mentioned earlier?


Kato The Steering Committee and the Planning Subcommittee receive opinions and advice regarding the planning proposals of the museum. When planning an exhibition, we will first consider the original plan in the museum. When proceeding with a specific project, it is common to create a working group with experts. In order to hold an exhibition, we will investigate the contents of the materials in parallel, but the investigation may lead to the collection of the materials because it is better to preserve them comprehensively.



There is also a difference in the value of materials in terms of architects and academics


 What are the steps to take when considering whether to accept materials or which of them are important materials?


Kato It depends on the storage location. If the office remains, the materials are organized by work to some extent, but if the bereaved family is kept, there are cases where you do not know what is going on. Basically, I look at the outline of what is available, borrow some of them, investigate, and finally narrow down.


 In the case of design archives, we often hear designers say that the recipients of materials are very limited, and even if they want to donate, there is no recipient. At the same time, considering that the number of recipients and the budget are limited, I think that if the donors organize the materials to some extent, such as listing the materials, there will be more leftovers. ,How about.


Tarashima As you said, one is the donor, and if the framework for donating this is decided, it will be easier for the recipient to hire. However, there is a problem in whether the value of the material that the architect thinks matches well with the academic and social value of the archive, so I think it is important to close the gap in recognition. From the point of view of the parties, even if they think that this is garbage, it is often of great value. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to have a perspective from both sides.


 That's true. For example, when you make an inventory, do you want us to roughly summarize by project, age, etc., rather than packing them in cardboard boxes indiscriminately?


Kato In fact, there are some that are organized in such a way and donated. In any case, I will investigate while checking the contents again, but it is much better than not knowing what is where, so I would like you to do so if possible.


 At an architectural firm, it seems that there are many cases where it is neat, but how is it actually?


Kato The final information, including future maintenance and refurbishment, is neatly organized. However, it is not uncommon for drawings and sketches before reaching that point to be thrown away. Academically, on the contrary, there are cases where it is very important, so that is quite difficult. In addition, some sketches can only be understood by the person himself / herself. Experts know to some extent that this should be the case for this architect's project, but it can still be quite wrong.


 Certainly, that is the most interesting part for those who are interested.


Kato That's right. The final building and the state before it are quite different, so I think the most interesting part of the researchers is to find out what kind of ideas are put into them.



Aiming for network cooperation with each research institution


 Do you ever research and manage archives here in collaboration with university laboratories?


Tarashima We are thinking of collaborating with research institutes such as universities in terms of information rather than research. In the long term, it is necessary to collect information on building materials in each institution so that it can be viewed across the board. Some universities already manage archives of well-known architects, so I think it is important for the museum to cooperate with such places and exchange information with each other.
The survey itself may be possible, but the students are quite busy, and not everyone can do it with human resources, so it can be quite difficult to control it.


 Last year, PLAT also participated in the archive seminar held here. Do you plan to hold regular information exchanges with those involved in the archive?


Tarashima This year's workshop is scheduled to be held in November. However, due to the corona, there is a limit to the number of people, so I am thinking of watching the lecture format remotely. The question is whether we can create a liaison organization in the long run, but since we frequently contact the experts of the committee, I think we have cleared the human issues considerably. I will.


Kato It will be easier to work together on the network if it is through digital materials rather than in-kind. Since there is a safety issue when taking out the actual material to the outside, in the future, we will proceed with digitization while solving problems such as copyright so that it can be viewed as digital material.


Tarashima Just a week ago, Japan Search ( ) was a cross-sectoral integration of countries. The portal site has been released. Since it is a mechanism to collect Japanese cultural digital resources by field or region and search across them, for example, upload the digital materials that the museum and each university have about the architectural field there. If you put together information across the board, you can create a mechanism that allows you to roughly trace domestic architectural materials, and I hope that you can serve as a link between them.


 That's wonderful. I'm looking forward to it. Thank you for your time today.






Location of National Archives of Modern Architecture, Agency for Cultural Affairs



National Archives of Modern Architecture, Agency for Cultural Affairs

Inside the Yushima Regional Joint Government Building, 4-6-15 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8553


what is going on?
Design archives of these people

There is also the possibility of changing subjects of survey.

The subjects (individuals) to be surveyed have been selected, including those who have already died, referring to the 2006 Asahi Shimbun publication "The Great Masters who have designed Nippon".

* Is a person who has died.




Let's talk about Shiro Kuramata

Symposium held

Shiro Kuramata (1934-1991) is a legendary designer who was active in the 1960s and 1980s.
His character and his work continue to fascinate people all over the world.
Thirty years before his death, he held a symposium to connect the design of Kuramata to the younger generation from the past to the present and the future as "Introduction to Shiro Kuramata".


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