Letter Supporting the Preservation of the Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo

by SAH Heritage Conservation Committee | Mar 09, 2016
The Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Japan (9 March 2016) Read Letter

Izumo Shrine Administration Building (courtesy Ken Oshima)Issue: 
The Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo is imminently threatened by demolition. The demolition is proposed in response to moisture infiltration issues experienced in the building. The Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo, designed by architect by Kiyonori Kikutake (1928-2011), is perhaps the most important extant building adjacent to the Grand Izumo Shrine. The Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo, a landmark of postwar Japanese architecture, uniquely translates traditional forms using post-tensioned concrete beams and precast concrete infill screen pieces. The Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo is an important example of Metabolic architecture, which embraced the forces of renewal, recycling, and transformation, themes which remain critical to our relationship to our ever-changing environment. Kikutake drew inspiration from centuries-old Japanese timber construction traditions to rebuild a nation ravaged by war and natural disasters, and his approach to address societal and technological changes was one of continuous evolution through the present. For this structure adjacent to one of the oldest and most important Shinto shrines in Japan, Kikutake’s scheme used state-of-the-art construction technology of pre-stressed precast concrete to rebuild the original administration building, which had been lost to fire.

SAH position:   
SAH expressed sympathy for the difficulties in maintaining historic buildings, and offered the assistance of our membership with preservation or maintenance advice, or support of the efforts of those charged with those undertakings. SAH expressed its belief that the loss of the Administration Building of the Great Shrine of Izumo would be a tragedy for Japan and for the world. 

Follow-up: 
The leadership of the shrine met in mid-April 2016 to discuss the situation, which is very much an active issue. The SAH letter was mentioned in the newspaper accounts of the situation, and the fate of the building is very much in flux at the moment. 

More information: 
Tectonic Visions Between Land & Sea: Works of Kiyonori Kikutake - ja+u
Kiyonori Kikutake: Structuring the Future by Mark Mulligan - Places Journal



Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is an international nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs.
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