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Doctor of Science
honoris causa

In the crowded environment in which we live in Hong Kong, we, more than most people, should be aware of the role of the architect in creating the physical fabric of our lives. Yet, all too often, we take him for granted and the buildings which to him are a satisfying expression of function, a visual creation on a grand scale, are scarcely seen by us as we daily pass them by. Occasionally, however, an architect emerges whose influence and charisma are such that he cannot but force himself into our consciousness and we acknowledge him for what he is and for his contribution to the world in which we live. Such a man is Professor Kenzo Tange and we will remember him not only as a man whose professional activities have done so much to change the face of urban Japan in recent years but also as an architect whose vision and inspiration have shown new generations of architects the way beyond designing buildings towards a new role for architecture in the creation of cities.

Kenzo Tange came to maturity as an architect at a time when Japan faced enormous problems: as much as urban renewal, the country urgently needed urban creation also. Although taxed by a plethora of social and political difficulties, Kenzo Tange sought for a fulfillment of his ideals not in the security of reproducing the old, traditional styles with the old, traditional materials. Rather he took the traditional Japanese, with which he has always had an immense and natural sympathy and the principles of which he thoroughly understood, and by exploring new materials and methods of construction welded in into a new form which accorded with the realities of and met the demands of urban life. In practicing and advancing his ideals over a large number of years, his many bold contributions demonstrate more than his flair for spectacular, visual success and illustrate his progressive working out of a systematic approach to the problems of urban planning. This is best seen, perhaps, in his startlingly novel and revolutionary ‘Tokyo Bay Plan’ of 1960 in which he postulated a solution to a particular problem of renewing an established urban area with the minimum of disturbance to the existing city.

But, Mr Chancellor, I would not presume to attempt to draw word pictures to represent the originality and fascination of Kenzo Tange’s projects. These will be seen as far apart as San Francisco and Bologna, Skopje and Kuwait and not merely in Japan alone. Neither can I hope to recount the many honours and distinctions which have been heaped upon him by learned bodies and universities all over the world. Let me conclude by referring to Kenzo Tange as a great man, a rare man and a great architect who has used his unique talents to enrich our environment and, who by his teaching and devoted guidance will ensure that future generations of architects may continue to give us the benefit of his imagination and inspiration.

It is more than fitting that we, as a University in a place which relies so much not the skills of the architect and in which the architect may practice the ideals of his profession, should add our humble approbation of Professor Kenzo Tange. Mr Chancellor, I respectfully request you confer on him the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science.

Citation written and delivered by Professor Dafydd Meurig Emrys Evans, LLB, BCL, the Public Orator of the University.

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