Walls Invisible….

Shinkyo as A Moderniste Survival Space

If the project of “mentally engineering” the new capital into submissive awe was perhaps tacitly accepted, one still finds no lack of experiments with international trends or ideas in the on-the-ground designs: utopianism was never very far from the surface. Shinkyo’s “castelic” mood aside, the city was far from a backwater or bastion of military minded parochialism. Its first major edifice, the Colonial Palace (my transl) erected upon Shunde Plaza, was (as its critics noted) a not-so-hidden allusion to the American Art Deco/Gothic design of the Los Angeles City Hall upon which the new (Tokyo) Diet building (comp. 1937) was very controversially modeled…. as we see here.

From LA Art Deco “Aztec” High Rise (1928)

LA City Hall High-Rise 1928: Art Dco "Aztec" Pyramid

To Tokyo Moderne: The National Diet Bldg (1931 start: here as completed i n 1937):

To Shinkyo Replica (1933-4)

Shuntian Plaza Colonial Palace (Kokumu'in/Guouyuan)

What is being played out here  is (as we have elsewhere seen) an old story: State sponsorship ( “art = propaganda” ) has a remarkable pull on (otherwise frustrated) new talent, who, so to speak, play the game for the funding and political approbation, but still manage to insert or even promote ambitious innovation, sowing the seeds so very often for even more radical experiment once their names are made, their overlords gone or discredited…

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