The history of bank buildings in Japan commenced with the establishment of the First National Bank in 1872. To date, only minimal research on the historical changes in the bank buildings constructed between 1872 and present day has been conducted.
Focusing on building exteriors, this study aims to examine the common architectural elements in the bank buildings constructed between 1890 and 1929. This study serves as an introductory account of the historical changes in the bank buildings constructed between 1872 and present day. The Western European-style architecture introduced by the Meiji-period policy belonged to the 19th-century European eclecticism.
Therefore, no building in that period was constructed in a unified architectural style.
This eclectic architectural style was possibly not appreciated by the Meiji-period society. It can be presumed that people who looked at bank buildings did not look at the architectural style but rather appreciated distinct parts of the buildings' exterior.
Therefore, this study extrapolates the architectural elements of the exteriors of the buildings constructed in the classical style and contrasts these elements with examples of such bank buildings.
Thereafter, on the basis of the results, this study discusses the common architectural elements in the bank buildings constructed between 1890 and 1929.
The buildings of the five major banks in Japan (Mitsui, Mitsubishi, Sumitomo, Yasuda, and Daiichi) constitute the research subjects of this study. The period chosen ranges from 1890 (when commercial banking started) to 1929 (after the Order for Enforcement of the Banking Act). Herein, 20 different architectural elements related to the exteriors of 121 individual buildings were examined and the architectural elements common in the exteriors of various buildings were analyzed.
The results reveal that corner lots, window grilles and railings, exterior stone, basements, perrons, architectural orders, cornices, reliefs, and flat roofs are found in over 60% of the buildings.
Considering the understanding of historical design and trends that it offers, this study can serve as a guideline for the construction of future bank buildings with new, creative designs.