UB Architecture in Tokyo
With a population of over 13 million people, Tokyo is among some of the most densely populated cities in the world. Although expansive, Tokyo’s public transportation system allows both residents and tourists alike to get around the city’s 23 wards with ease. As Japan’s capital city, this bustling metropolis boasts a number of impressive architectural achievements including the recently constructed Tokyo Sky Tree, which holds the Guinness Record for the world’s tallest tower. Tokyo offers many exciting sites to explore such as the Mokubakan (an ancient Japanese theater) and Lotus Park. The capital also offers the enchanting Ueno Park where the National Museum is found as well as rows of traditional shops, restaurants, ornate Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Home to both the Imperial Palace and National Diet, Tokyo is where traditional Japanese values and cosmopolitan pop culture meet.
Re-built after WWII, Tokyo has a rich body of structures built on awkward, compact sites with multiple, often conflicting programs. The majority of these buildings are essentially architectural coincidences rather than forming part of the ‘designed’ city. The city also has a paradoxical tradition wherein many structures are habitually demolished and reconstructed. Japanese architect Toyo Ito has pointed out that preservation in Japan is historically linked to impermanence. While New York has been thought of as the 20th century metropolitan model, Tokyo has been referred to by many as a model for the metropolitan future which, put into terms by Peter Wilson, is “not due to the appropriateness of its layout or the visibility of its architecture, but because of the apparent absence of these qualities.” The city is at once our laboratory and case study from which we will attempt to cull emergent behaviors and relationships between the physicality and use of urban public space. We’ll attempt to address Bruno Latour’s notion of the “collective” by identifying the various actors, intermediaries, mediators, and objects in several parts of the city. The coursework is designed to reinforce direct personal oberservation and experience as a way to study the complex urban conditions of Tokyo. Our intention is to engage in the emergent behavior of public spaces and develop structures/infrastructures that orchestrate large urban crowds and collectives through physical alterations, linkages, divisions, and suggested relationships. Students will use both analog and code-based design techniques to propose ways to map, visualize, model and analyze Tokyo’s rich variety of urban fabric, programmatic mixes, and constant relations to technology. Students are expected to be speculative, provocative, ever inquisitive, and inspired by their curiosity and willingness to delve into the unknown.
Tokyo 2014 is the Department of Architecture’s fourth trip to Japan in recent years, and includes a week long excursion throughout the South of Japan where we will see some of the country’s most significant historic architectural sites. Destinations include: Ise, Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Fukuoka.
Classroom spaces will be available for class meetings, discussions, and reviewing of work. The group will meet weekly at Shibaura House designed by Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), a recently built mixed-use building with flexible workshop spaces and interior courtyards. If possible, we may also be renting a weekly workspace at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, an active space hosting a wide range of events and exhibitions related to the creative fields.
Coursework (12 undergraduate/13 graduate credits)
The design studio will be split into 3 (or 4) workshop sessions each with a particular focus, led by the program faculty in collaboration with professors currently teaching at prominent higher education institutions in Tokyo (Waseda, Tokyo University of Science, University of Tokyo).
• Technical Methods Seminar
The technical seminar will be closely coordinated with the studio, and designed to support students in developing software skills that will allow for a more active engagement with studio topics.
• History, Theory Seminar
This seminar intends to expose students to Japan’s rich cultural heritage as a way to further understand Japan’s historic vernacular architecture, as well as more recent theoretical positions by leading Japanese architects.
**Students are highly encouraged to bring their own laptop computers, as the majority of the work will be done digitally.
Students will live within the city limits of Tokyo, and in one of the below options. The program director will have already set up the accommodations before the group’s arrival in May.
• Apartments (2 or 3 students per) organized through Sakura House, either dispersed throughout Tokyo or in one main building. Rooms are furnished with a kitchenette, refrigerator, air-conditioner, bathroom, closet, and TV. Apartments will be located near subway stations.
• Dormatory style rooms (1 or 2 students per) at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center, located centrally near Yoyogi Park, near several rail lines, and is within walking distance to popular areas in Tokyo including Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shinjuku. Rooms are typically small but comfortable (bed, table, AC, bathroom). The complex is multi- national and active throughout the year, housing traveling students from around the world.
Estimated costs for this program can be found at the top of this page next to Budget Sheets by clicking on Summer.
UB students are encouraged to apply for study abroad scholarships. To learn more about the scholarships available to UB students, please visit our scholarships page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Please contact the Faculty Program Director: