New Brutalism and the Myth of Japan


  • Yat Shun Juliana Kei The University of Liverpool



New Brutalism, Japan, Architectural Design magazine, Standardised Architecture, Roland Barthes


This paper seeks to shed new lights on the New Brutalism through re-orienting attention to the repeated evocations of Japan in Alison and Peter Smithson’s writings since the 1950s. In these articles, the Smithsons did not only present Japanese architectural tradition as a yardstick of the Modern Movement and hence New Brutalism, but also took pride in the fact that their understandings of Japanese culture were from the mass media. This study examines how New Brutalism was simultaneously shaped by mass media’s post-war media boom and their portrayal of Japan. It suggests that Japan had several efficacies for New Brutalism, including as an inspiration for mass-produced architecture and mass-produced culture. The problems associated with their references to Japan will also be considered.


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How to Cite

Kei, Y. S. J. (2019). New Brutalism and the Myth of Japan. Histories of Postwar Architecture, 2(4), 242–255.