TĔLOPLAN VISITS: the Maekawa Estate

Discover the house built by Kunio Maekawa, one of the most influential Japanese architects of the 20th century


The soft lights fall through the wooden lattice window and the Shoji screens. The gable roof is tranquil, yet bold. The house reminds one of a traditional japanese housing, but with unmistakable essences of modernism. It is located in Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architecture Museum, which preserves and exhibits historically valuable buildings from all over Japan. Kunio Maekawa is inarguably one of the most important Japanese architects of the 20th century. Having designed notable architectural works such as the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan building and the Kyoto Kaikan building (now known as ROHM Theatre Kyoto), Maekawa, who is known as the pioneer of the modernist architectural movement, spent over 30 years in this house, originally built in 1942 in Meguro, Tokyo.


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Kunio Maekawa was born in 1905 in Niigata, Japan and grew up in Tokyo. On the night of graduating from Tokyo Imperial University with a degree from a Department of Architecture, Maekawa left for France. He travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway, arrived in Paris and apprenticed with Le Corbusier as a first Japanese apprentice of Corbusier. After 2 years of apprenticing with Corbusier, Maekawa returned to Japan. He then worked with a Czech architect Antonin Raymond, who is a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and known as one of the fathers of modern architecture, and established his own architectural office.


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Jacket: Stylist's own
Trousers: Stylist's own

Dress: Jose China Dress
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This building was designed by Kosaburo Sakitani, who was a member of Maekawa’s architectural office. It was built during the Second World War, with severe limitations such as the space limits and material shortages. It might have been because of such a background, that the house of Maekawa, who designed many concrete architectures, is wooden. The two story living room incorporates Le Corbusier’s idea of piloti. At the time the house was built, only Maekawa, who was single then, and the housemaids lived in the house. However, after Maekwa’s office was burnt down in the 1945 bombing of Tokyo, the house was also used as the office building. And when Maekawa got married after the war, the wife also started to live there, presumably making the house full of people.


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In 1973, Maekawa decided to rebuild the house with a RC building and the house was dismantled. Yet, the woods were carefully preserved with a hope of being rebuilt in Karuizawa. Unfortunately, the wish was never fulfilled before Maekawa’s death in 1986. However, in 1994, it was decided that the house would be reconstructed in Edo Tokyo Open air architectural museum, considering its historic values. Today, having been relocated in the city of Koganei, far away from Meguro, the Maekawa house, which survived the turbulent times, remains an important record of the everyday life of the times and the embodiment of the intrinsic beauty of design.


Photographer: John Clayton Lee (home agency)
Stylist: Maiko Kimura
Hair/Makeup: Masaki Sugaya (Gara Inc.,)
Model: Kasumi (Tateoka Office)