top of page
  • John Barr

Do|Co|Mo|Mo|Japan|01 : Tokyo Women's Christian University : Antonin Raymond

Do|Co|Mo|Mo is an international organisation dedicated to the Documentation and Conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement. The Japanese branch has selected 100 works as representative of the development of the Modern Movement in Japan.

This is the first in a series of short posts where I will feature some of the selected works that I have had the chance to visit and photograph. This post features Tokyo Women's Christian University, designed by Antonin Raymond...

Early Modernist Buildings in Japan

Perhaps unsurprisingly, early examples selected to represent the development of Modern Movement buildings in Japan were designed by western architects. The earliest examples include two projects designed by Frank Lloyd Wright: the Jiyu Gakuen (1921) and the Yamamura Residence (1924). The former is a school located in Tokyo and the latter, situated in Ashiya, Hyogo Prefecture, was originally designed as a private residence for the Yamamura family of sake brewers and is now used as a guesthouse for Yodogawa Steel Works. Based on chronological date order, the next example selected is Tokyo Women’s Christian University, designed by Antonin Raymond.

Antonin Raymond and the Frank Lloyd Wright Connection

Raymond was a Czech architect who emigrated to the USA, where he worked for three years for Cass Gilbert before joining Wright’s studio at Taliesin in 1916. After serving in the U.S Army during WW1 he returned to Wright’s office and moved to Japan to work on the Tokyo Imperial Hotel, eventually parting company with Wright and establishing his own office in Japan in 1921.

Tokyo Women’s Christian University (1924-1938)

Raymond’s first major project as an independent architect was the Tokyo Women’s Christian University and it illustrates the beginnings of his efforts to establish his own voice whilst still experimenting with styles borrowed from other architects. The complex includes a number of buildings completed over several years and, through them, we can track the course of Raymond’s influences during that period. Whilst the Library and the staff residencies still display Wright’s influence, the Dormitory flirts with a more industrial style close to Czech Cubism and the Chapel does a lot more than flirt with August Perret’s design for Notre-Dame du Raincy (1923).

Tokyo Women's Christian University (1924-38), Antonin Raymond.

The Library, showing Wright's influence, in particular his Prairie style of horizontal planes and hipped roofs with large overhanging eaves.

To the right of the pathway and behind the avenue of trees can just be seen the dormitory block, which exhibits a more industrial aesthetic influenced by Czech Cubism.

Tokyo Women's Christian University (1924-38), Antonin Raymond.

The Chapel which, on a smaller scale, is virtually a direct copy of August Perret's Notre-Dame du Raincy, exhibiting the same structure (although only one bay wide rather than three), the same facade treatment, the same stained glass patterns and colours, the same apse, even the same light fittings. Externally, Raymond has also adopted Perret's design for the church spire.

Raymond in Japan

Raymond spent the years of WWII in the USA but returned to Japan after the war, where he completed many more projects, some of which will feature later in this series of posts.

bottom of page