The country’s postwar housing complexes were intended to represent a bold new era. Cody Ellingham’s eerie photographs emphasize their fading....

What happens to modern architecture when it ceases to stand for progress—when it ceases, effectively, to be modern? 

New Zealand* photographer Cody Ellingham started to wonder this when he encountered Japan’s government housing complexes, or “danchi” (the term means “group land” in Japanese). Danchi construction started in the late ‘50s, as part of Japan’s postwar boom. They were intended to represent a new era in Japan: they were created in a Western style, foregoing traditional, multi-generational Japanese homes made of wood for concrete towers built for nuclear families. With their refrigerators, televisions, and washing machines, danchi were seen as a way for Japanese families to become part of the nation’s upward trajectory towards modernity.

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