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West of Japan/East of Europe:
Translating Architectural Legacies and the Case of Bruno Taut’s Hyuga Villa

Paolo Scrivano a* and Marco Capitanio b

a Department of Architecture, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China
b Department of System Design and Engineering, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan

* Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT  Based on communications presented at the international symposium ‘West of Japan/East of Europe’, hosted by the Department of Architecture at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in concomitance with the exhibition‘Bruno Taut’s Hyuga Villa in Atami, Japan’, this text discusses the question of cultural translation in architecture departing from the example of Hyuga Villa, realized by Taut in 1936. Despite the inherently immobile status of architecture, architectural ideas travel widely, as well as their conceivers, the architects. The cultural passage implicit to translation is never flawless, though. Hyuga Villa offers a good case in point, since it was conceived by an architect who had only a partial grasp of local culture and who tried to integrate elements of both Western and Japanese design. But what are the implications of ‘translating’ architecture? Can we translate not only words but also images, details, building conventions, even aesthetic sensitivities? And is everything translatable? Applied to an artifact recognised today as an important testimony to the encounter between Western and Eastern design cultures, these questions relate to issues that are central to the debate on both architectural history and built heritage, proposing an alternative approach in terms of method and scope.

KEYWORDS  cultural translation, Bruno Taut, Japan, Hyuga Villa, emigration, professional mobility, European architecture, Asian architecture, heritage

Received May 1, 2018; accepted May 22, 2018.

Updated on July 6, 2018.

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