1923: Horiguchi meets the Amsterdam School

Starting in late 2023, Amsterdam School Museum Het Schip will present an exhibition devoted to the Japanese architect Horiguchi.

100 years ago - on September 29, 1923 - the recently graduated Japanese architect Sutemi Horiguchi visited the newly completed social housing complex Het Schip. The building immediately drew great interest among urban planners and architects from many countries, but in Horiguchi's homeland the complex and the Amsterdam School movement remained unknown.

At the time, Japan was not very attentive to the developments in Europe, but Horiguchi was in fact very interested in the modern architecture that was developing there. Back in Japan, he learned about the Wiener Secession (1898) and the Beurs van Berlage (1903). During his studies, he had founded the Bunriha movement with a group of fellow students in 1920 centered around the question, "Can architecture be art?

A memorable acquaintance

His father paid for a trip through Europe after his graduation. He left by steamship and once he reached land, he continued to travel by train. On one trip to Amsterdam, he met a man who could tell him all about cutting-edge architecture. This is how he first came into contact with the Amsterdam School in the expansion districts of the time.

During his trip he visited many countries, but of all that he had seen, the Amsterdam School had touched him most deeply. Once back in Japan, he therefore published a book about the movement in 1924. This book, documented with beautiful photographs by Bernard Eilers, made a deep impression in Japanese professional circles. He wrote: "Here all the workers live in beautiful buildings like palaces or museums. Homage to the municipal government!". Former residents of the Ship recall that Japanese tourists came to see the Ship in its early years.

Remarkably, Horiguchi also took photos himself in 1923, including the only interior photos from that time - so far - found of the post office of The Ship.

His special visit will be celebrated 100 years after the fact with an exhibition about Horiguchi. Focusing on his enthusiasm for the Amsterdam School as an architectural and art movement, which he saw reflected especially in the construction of workers' housing. In addition, the exhibition shows how the inspiration found its way into his own architecture.


The exhibition 1923: Horiguchi meets the Amsterdamse School was supported by: