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Kenzo Tange's forgotten master plan for the reconstruction of Skopje
journal contributionposted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by Mirjana LozanovskaMirjana Lozanovska
After the 1963 earthquake, which is said to have destroyed seventy-five per cent of the urban fabric, Skopje, capital city of the Republic of Macedonia (then in Yugoslavia) became a centre of architectural activity. The United Nations held a limited competition for the reconstruction of Skopje, inviting four foreign firms and four Yugoslavian firms to participate. Tange's submission received sixty per cent of the first prize, co-operating with Yugoslav architects to develop the design idea. What can this project tell us about modernism re-inscribed in Japan, and the kinds of internationalism that the United Nations constructed? Japanese Metabolism, of which Tange was a pioneer, heralded Japan as a new centre for innovation in architecture; a new nationalism re-oriented the suffering after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Tange developed and realised in Skopje the striking planning ideas he began in his Tokyo Bay proposal. This article examines Tange's master plan for Skopje. It argues that his key elements, the City Wall and the City Gate, exemplify Tange's drive for a new vision in the context of destruction, and that these remain definitive elements today even in the context of a messy transition from a communist to a capitalist society.