The Lost Decade


• A type of post-modern architecture that uses fragmented design principles; common traits include: no harmony, no continuity, and broken symmetry.

The boom economy in Japan peaked in the late 80s due to a combination of stock inflation and high-risk loans, resulting in Japan’s bubble economy bursting in 1991. Due to the increased demand for office buildings and limitations on land and time, real estate prices inflated. There was a focus on time-efficient construction, rather than thoughtful design.

One particular architectural style emerged in the 1980s that stood out from the rest. Deconstructivism came about due to the 1982 Parc de la Villette architectural competition. The designs from this era were seen as purposefully disharmonious, with distorted, atypical shapes that revolted against the more common principles of building façade, structure, and envelope. It was seen as more of an informal movement, due to inconsistent design traits in Deconstructivist buildings. Whereas more utopian forms of architecture like Metabolism were an expression of a desire to mask traits of humanity commonly considered undesirable, Deconstructivism utilized provocative designs that welcomed confusion and ‘planned chaos.’

Due to these two factors, there are fewer notable buildings from this decade. Architects at the time struggled during this post-bubble era of sudden job scarcity. Many began seeking work in collectives. Some opted to work in housing revitalization and projects aimed at reshaping public infrastructure. Smaller firms struggled to find work in the city, and a majority of architecture projects of the post-bubble era were commissions, either for local and city governments or public companies.

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