Under Threat: Izumo Grand Shrine Administrative Building
by Kiyonori Kikutake, Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Japan
The Administrative Building of the Izumo Grand Shrine, in Shimane Prefecture is currently facing the threat of demolition.
Because of leaking roofs and other deterioration, as well as the difficulty to inspect the structure´s earthquake proofing measures, the Izumo Grand Shrine will tear down the 53 year-old building, which has been closed to the public since July 2015.
Designed and completed between 1961 and 1963 by Japanese architect Kiyonori Kikutake, the building is an original example of metabolist architecture in a truly unique setting. Located to the west of one of the Grand Shrine´s ceremonial approaches and parallel to the road, the simple structure measuring 10 by 40 m, makes use of precast concrete, with details reminiscent of wooden screens of the surrounding temples. Even in contrast with the traditional wooden structures, the Administration Building´s design recognizes the importance of the temple and shows Kikutake´s consideration for the special context. Other innovative concrete details include louvers on either side of the building, which bathe the interior office spaces in a soft light.
The building has received architectural recognition from Japan and the United States, and is listed as one of the top 100 modernist buildings by Docomomo Japan.
Despite efforts from local groups and architects´ petitions to preserve the building for its cultural and architectural significance, the decision to demolish still stands.
An online petition is available here.
Photo: Mark Mulligan, 2014.