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Victorian Japan in Taiwan: Transmission and Impact of the ‘Modern’ upon the Architecture of Japanese Authority, 1853-1919.

Chang, Hui Ju (2014) Victorian Japan in Taiwan: Transmission and Impact of the ‘Modern’ upon the Architecture of Japanese Authority, 1853-1919. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This research assesses how contact with Europe and America from 1853 created a new notion of the modern in Japan and colonial Taiwan, through exploring the architectural expressions of Japanese architects. Taking a detailed look at relevant theories of the modern, and the geo-political, governmental and intellectual histories of Meiji Japan, I analyse how Japan used architecture in their nation-building process, and later the role of architecture in building colonial modernity in Taiwan. The study explores how colonial buildings crystallised Japan’s fledgling modernity, cumulating in an extensive case study of the Taiwan Governor-General’s Office, focusing on how the building spatially embedded hierarchical relationships, and how through mastery of European architectural forms it became an artefact of techno-cultural superiority. Through these analyses I find that whilst Japan’s modernity was genuine (in that it was rationally innovative and fashionably reflected up-to-date forms and technologies) the conditions that produced it were sufficiently different that Japan effectively created a split in the idea of what it meant to be modern. Whilst modernity in Europe occurred over a long period, driven by the Enlightenment and the growth of imperialism, in Japan the primary driver was the desire to be seen as civilised, which required instrumental utilisation of reason (and later colonisation) to achieve. Japan’s architectural modernity was intrinsically tied to the state’s drive towards Great Power status, dominance over East Asian neighbours and the reframing of a national Japanese cultural identity as intrinsically superior. These diverse aims led to a unique cultural gap between public and private life developing in Japan, and to Japan politically and culturally splitting off from East Asia. This thesis looks in detail at the story of kindai (modern) architecture in Japan, through exploring a number of themes. First, how translated concepts entered Japan through Josiah Conder, the first Professor of Architecture in Japan, who instituted a new ranking of building types that placed indigenous architecture below European masonry. Second, how political centralisation led to the creation of a modern Japanese architecture style promoted by Conder’s successor TATSUNO Kingo, which became a national style through its use first in Japan and later more extensively in Japan’s colonies. Third, due to the foundational splits in the basis for architectural education in Japan, new social boundaries were created through the Governor-General’s Office which allowed colonial architects to shore their sense of superiority whilst avoiding Orientalist rackets. In spite of this the building remains equivocal: the modern split between Japanese administration and residential architecture even applied to the Governor-General, and implied Euro-American authority remains through the necessary spatial and stylistic appropriations. As the first study that traces the formation of modern architecture in Taiwan to Japan and further back to Victorian Britain, this thesis provides a trans-disciplinary contribution to the field.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Architecture (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.632583
Depositing User: Ms Hui Ju Chang
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2014 11:19
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7615

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