NYK Maritime Museum

Closes April 3

“Le Corbusier” is perhaps less about the renowned architect and more about ship building, though there are plenty of photographs, drawings, text, video footage, models and installations to keep those interested in architcture occupied.

By focusing on Le Corbusier’s pioneering ideas on Modern architecture, the exhibition illustrates the influence that ships had on building structures and design, and vice versa. Le Corbusier embraced industrial and technological advances and emphasized a design aesthetic based on the functionality of buildings. One of his many ideas was that ocean liners and cruise ships, which had to be designed for functionality, could be important influences on land architecture.

This is the single link between the architect and many of the exhibits on show, which includes a 1924 copy of Le Corbusier’s “Vers Une Architecture” (“Toward an Architecture”), his manifesto for Modern architecture, which happens to have an image of a ship on its cover, and photos comparing his building’s designs to those of ships. Modern architecture, of course, involved far more than cruise liner influences, but what may initially appear irrelevant to building structure, such as sketches of ships and artifacts from ships, do in fact illustrate the genius behind modern architects who chose to incorporate such nautical details into their work. Some of Le Corbusier’s buildings do have aesthetic and even structural similarities to ships, such as the alignment and shapes of windows. And some, according to curator Ebina Atsumi, were even painted with the same white salt-water resistant paint used for plimsole lines.

Le Corbusier did build one steel and concrete boat in 1929, the Asile flottant, which now sits on the River Seine in Paris. Used as a shelter for the homeless until 1994, there were plans to convert the structure into a gallery and cafe. Images of this, along with a model of it displaying Japanese architect Shuhei Endo’s plan to shelter and protect the boat, can also be seen at the exhibition. Though the shelter was never built and the boat is yet to be converted, the plan to turn a boat into a building could at a stretch be seen in line with Le Corbusier’s thinking on Modern architecture.

The NYK Maritime Museum is a 2-min. walk from Exit 6 of Bashamichi Station (Minato Mirai Line); admission ¥400; open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Mon. For more information, visit www.nyk.com/rekishi/e/index.htm


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