Friday, July 20, 2012

Old Hokkaido Government Building

Welcome to Akarenga! The flyer says.

The Former Hokkaido Government Building, whose red appearance  contrasts beautifully in every season, has gained wide popularity with its nickname akarenga, or "Red Bricks." Completed in 1888, the American neo-baroque-style brick building was designed by engineers of the Hokkaido Government and was constructed with many local building materials.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo C Perdigon
It played a pivotal role in Hokkaido over the 80 years until the new government building was constructed. Measuring 61 m in frontage, 36 m in depth and 33 m in height up to the tower top, akarenga is equivalent in size to a present-day 10-story building.

At that time, it was one of the largest buildings in Japan. The octagonal dome towering on the building was constructed in 1873 according to the plan by Capron, an American advisor to the Development Commission, modeling for the octagonal dome of the Hokkaido Development Commissin Sapporo Main Office, which was burned down six years later.

Photo courtesy of Ricardo C Perdigon
In those days, an architectural style of topping buildings with domes was popular in the U.S.A. as the symbol of independence and enterprising spirit. In 1886, the Hokkaido Government was established and first Governor Michitoshi Iwamura, nostalgic about the octagonal dome, ordered the construction of a dome on top of akarenga when the government building was built.

Although the inside of akarenga was burned by a fire in 1909, the red brick walls luckily sustained little damage. Restoration work was initiated the following year and was completed in 1911.
Photo courtesy of Ricardo C Perdigon
In 1968, it was restored to its original state in commemoration of the centennial anniversary of Hokkaido and its permanent preservation was determined.

Today, there are few western-style architectural structures from the Meiji era as fabulous as akarenga in Japan and it was designated as a National Important Property in 1969.

No comments:

Post a Comment