Hizuchi Elementary School

World Monuments Fund

Hizuchi Elementary School

The 2012 World Monuments Fund/Knoll Modernism Prize is awarded to the Architectural Consortium for Hizuchi Elementary School for the restoration of Hizuchi Elementary School. Located in Yawatahama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, Hizuchi was designed by MATSUMURA Masatsune, constructed from 1956 to 1958, and restored by the Consortium from 2008 to 2009. 

In its review of the nominations, the jury was delighted to discover an exemplary building in the history of post-war modernist architecture in Japan little known, as yet, outside the country. Even at the time it was built, Hizuchi, a wood-framed modern structure located in a small, relatively remote Japanese town, took the Japanese architectural profession by surprise for its originality and conviction. Of local and national significance, Hizuchi Elementary School has been saved and masterfully restored, and has been re-inscribed in national modern architectural history. It can now be recognized internationally as both an extremely fine building and an absolutely impeccable restoration project. 

Equally impressive was the process by which the community was engaged, came to re-appreciate, and eventually saved the school despite some initial sentiment to tear it down following extensive damage in a 2004 typhoon. It is a living piece of the community once again—where schoolchildren are interacting with a very finely designed building in everything from education and recreation to their part in daily maintenance. 

The original architectural design and recent restoration of Hizuchi is a reminder that there has always been a dialogue between tradition and modernity in the history of the modern movement. Nowhere is it more important than in Japan, where the discussion of the theme influenced the shape of the country’s post-war reconstruction and, in turn, influenced the international debate on modern architecture and community building in the 1950s. 

Members of the Architectural Consortium for Hizuchi Elementary School are SUZUKI Hiroyuki, MAGATA Kiyotada, HANADA Yoshiaki, WADA Kouichi, TAKECHI Kazutomi, KOSHIHARA Mikio, and Yawatahama City, OHSHIRO Ichiro, Mayor.

-Barry Bergdoll, Jury Chairman

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