©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM

Imabari City Public Hall / Imabari Civic Center

Imabari City Public Hall (1958)

Imabari Civic Center(1965)

by Kenzo TANGE

At the Ehime Prefecture end of the Shimanami Kaido expressway is the city of Imabari. Popular for its sea views and local castle, Imabari is best known to architecture buffs as the childhood home of renowned Japanese architect Tange Kenzo (1913–2005). Although born in Osaka, Tange spent his formative years in Imabari, before going on to become one of the most internationally influential Japanese architects of the 20th century.

 

Tange’s winning design for the Hiroshima Peace Center in 1949 caught the attention of architects around the world, and Tange became one of the first Japanese architects to work overseas, designing buildings and cities in countries including Italy, the United States, France, Saudi Arabia and Nepal. Some of Tange’s most famous works in Japan include the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building and the Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Many famous architects learned their craft at Tange’s architectural studio, including Isozaki Arata, Kurokawa Kisho, Maki Fumihiko, and Taniguchi Yoshio.

 

The Seto Inland Sea region is home to many of Tange’s buildings, including Kagawa Prefectural Government Hall. But only Imabari has so many Tange designs so close together. Three public buildings, Imabari City Public Hall, Imabari Civic Center, and Imabari City Hall itself, form a public plaza at the core of the city, and all three were designed by Tange. Not only that, but the Imabari and Tokiwa branches of Ehime Shinkin Bank are also Tange designs. For anyone interested in modernist Japanese architecture, Imabari is an essential place to visit.

 

Imabari City Public Hall

Imabari City Public Hall is one of three public buildings designed by Tange Kenzo (1913–2005) for the city of Imabari. Built in 1958 as a performance space and auditorium, Imabari City Public Hall stands across from Imabari City Hall. Both buildings were designed and built at the same time, with the space between them turned into a public plaza and parking lot.

 

An angular concrete battleship of a building, Imabari City Public Hall is an excellent example of Tange’s early work. Influenced by the Swiss modernist Le Corbusier (1887–1965), the use of plain, unadorned concrete is typical of Tange’s style. Unlike many of Tange’s other buildings, such as the Hiroshima Peace Center, neither the City Hall nor the Public Hall use pilotis (pillars) to support the structure. This is because Tange wanted visitors to have uninterrupted access from the ground floor. Instead, Imabari City Public Hall uses triangular-shaped supports on its walls, reminiscent of origami paper folds.

 

The pointed columns support a sweeping roof, creating a large concert hall. Inside, the triangle motif continues on the walls, and the sloping floor of the auditorium becomes the slanted concrete ceiling of the lobby. Tange was known for using plain materials to create beautiful designs, and his talents are on full display in Imabari City Public Hall. Glossy wood seats and bannisters blend with the polished concrete, but both give way to occasional shocks of scarlet on walls and curtains. Imabari City Public Hall seats roughly 1,000 people and was renovated in 2013. Despite that, it is clear that Tange’s influence in the building remains strong.

 

Imabari Civic Center

Imabari Civic Center is the third of architect Tange Kenzo’s trio of public buildings for the city of Imabari. Built in 1965, the Civic Center was a later addition to the site already occupied by the Tange-designed Imabari City Hall and Imabari City Public Hall. Between them, the three buildings form a public plaza in the middle of the city. Standing directly opposite the Public Hall, Imabari Civic Center is a flexible public space for meetings and events.

 

Like its neighboring buildings, Imabari Civic Center opens directly onto the plaza. As with much of Tange’s work, plain, unadorned concrete is the main material, and this is especially visible in the stepped concrete roof. However, unlike the Imabari Public Hall, with its brutalist concrete facade, Imabari Civic Center relies more on glass. Tall vertical louver windows dominate the second floor, which overhangs the first, echoing the stepped roof. Large windows on the first floor give the building a gentler, less imposing entrance.

 

Inside, the same polished wood, concrete, and scarlet highlights from Imabari City Public Hall are here, but with a more natural twist. Concrete pillars are riddled with lines and knots, like wooden beams, and on the second floor, the feature windows create rippling reflections like water on the polished floor.

  • The exterior of the Public Hall / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The interior of the Public Hall / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The interior of the Public Hall / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The interior of the Public Hall / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The interior of the Public Hall built in 1958 / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The stairs of the Public Hall / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The exterior of the Civic Center built in 1965 / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The interior of the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The stairs of the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The stairs of the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The stairs of the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The conference room of the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The interior of the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The view from the Civic Center / Photo/©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM
  • The exterior of the City Hall built in 1958, 1972 and 1994, which is located left side of the Public Hall / Photo/ ©SETOUCHI | ARCHI-TOURISM

DATA

1-4-1betsukuchicho Imabarishi, Ehime

+81-898-32-5200 (Imabari City Hall)

All the three buildings are located 10 mins walk from JR Imabari Station.