Life Story: A Passion for Contemporary (Modular) Architecture in Japan


NEXT21 building in Osaka (Source - Osaka Gas)

NEXT21 building in Osaka (Source – Osaka Gas)


Today, we are delighted and honoured to share with you the following document (in French, English and Japanese), full of great building pictures in Japan, from Pr Jean Englebert, telling us about his Life Passion for Japanese Contemporary (Modular) Architecture:

A Style for the year 2001” or also “About Japan: How and why I discovered it“.

Please download the file from hereA Style for 2001 (Pr Jean Englebert)

Here is a long sample. Enjoy!



I have been drawn to Japan and its architecture since 1970.

I am convinced that 21st century architecture is yet to be

invented, both here and there.

The beginning of the adventure

I went to Japan for the first time in August 1970.

At the time, I was carrying out an extensive study on the

design and the making of a housing prototype that would be

manufactured industrially.

During the first two years of the study, I stumbled upon articles

saying that Japanese researchers were working toward

the same goal. I became curious and wanting to go there to

see the results of their research with my own eyes.

During the 1969 annual year’s end dinner organised by my

students, I was invited to say a few words. I challenged them

to set up a trip to Japan and use that opportunity to visit the

1970 Osaka World’s fair.

After some hesitations due to the fact that no other such long

trip had ever been imagined at the University, we came together

to start fund-raising the amount we needed and made up a plan

with the help of native Osamu Nozaki, a JETRO (Japan External

Trade Organization) senior staff member. And we made it!

In August 1970, forty of us flew out to Japan under a banner

that we gave and drew ourselves: le coq liégeois au pays du

soleil levant («the cock from Liège in the Land of the

Rising Sun»). We spent a month visiting Tokyo, Nagoy0a,

Kyoto, Himeji, Hiroshima and especially Osaka and the expo.

Encounters to remember

We were able to have astounding encounters with reknowned

architects such as Kisho Kurowaka and Kiyonori Kikutake, both

founding and active members of the Metabolist movement,

who gave us formative information about their research and

their creations.

In Tokyo, we were especially able to visit the Nakagin capsule

tower made by Kisho Kurowaka that had just been opened.

The 144 modular volumes connected to two concrete towers

containing elevators were used as hotel rooms for businessmen

who enjoyed state-of-the-art equipment: not only did

they have a full bathroom in thermoformed materials but also

the latest electronic devices: radio, recorders, typewriters,

TV as well as an oven and a refrigerator. Nothing was missing

so as to make sure that the «salary men» who couldn’t go

home at night were fully autonomous.

Much later, in 1991, Pr Jean Englebert founded the CEJUL (Centre for Japanese Studies at Liège University)!!!


Nakagin Capsule Tower (Source - Wikipedia)

Nakagin Capsule Tower (Source – Wikipedia)



About Jean ENGLEBERT (in short):

• Civil Engineer and Architect (1955, University of Liège).

• Engineer and town-planner (1958, University of Liège).

• Full-time Professor at the Applied Sciences Faculty (University of Liège),

Architectonic and Urbanistic Composition, 1966-1994

. Emeritus professor 1994

• Founder and director of the Research Centre for Architecture and Town-planning of the Liège University (CRAU), since 1967.

. Founder member in 1991 and President of CÉJUL (Centre for Japanese Studies at Liège University)

. Decorated of ” The Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” by  His Majesty the Emperor of Japan the Twenty – ninth of the Fourth Month of the Seventh Year of Heisei (1995 ).

. Appreciation Prize 1998 of the A.I.J. (Architectural Institute of Japan).


About GBMC

GBMC (Global Business & Management Consulting): Based in Paris area, we are a proactive Professional Service Provider and Consultancy specialized in the following three domains: 1) EU-Japan Business Consulting (Consultancy, Import-Export, Training & Translation). 2) General Business Consulting (Business Coaching, Technical Markets Consulting) 3) Management Consulting (Interim Management, Transition Management) Please check for details View all posts by GBMC

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