Studio Description: Caring the Modern

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Instructor: Tamotsu Ito


Gifu Municipal Hall, designed by Junzo Sakakura (from Shinkenchiku April 1967)



In this studio, you will tackle how modern architecture can be reactivated as a matter of contemporary architectural design. There are a number of public buildings built during the modernization and the economic growth all over Japan. Many of them, including the ones designed by well-known architects, now confront the arguments on whether (and how) they can be sustained, or they should be demolished. There have been several reasons for that; -1. It is too old to meet the current structural requirement of anti-seismic building code (and too expensive to refurbish in a normal way.) / -2. It costs too much to maintain the buildings, and too much running costs to make it inhabitable in the midst of this global warming. / -3. It no longer fits to contemporary and diversified lifestyles; too little usage for initially imagined programs. Or, we might say it became unfit for more specific issues in each cityʼs governance.

At the same time, these buildings had been built with strong spatial visions of master architects. We could see so many qualities in space, materials, and histories. Or people find cultural values and memories accumulated to each building. Most of such values, however, are unquantifiable and therefore harder to be defended to the public.

How could we succeed these modern buildings for next generations with thoughts beyond the modernism, in terms of not only in architectural discourse, but also in societal framework, and peopleʼs ways of thinking? How the renovation could be more than typical restoration or preservation? What if we accept the radical decrease of structure, or technological addition to such masterpieces? What if large buildings can be re-interpret into small occupations with ʻstreetsʼ? What if the ʻuserʼ of the building is not limited to human being? What if the structure of a concert hall is turned into a storage of urban farming products? etc. etc. – You architects would be like a doctor of the larger built environment, who diagnoses and cares modern buildings, modern cities, and modern society.

You will be assigned one of the important public buildings in Gifu City, a regional capital city of Gifu Prefecture, Japan. You will propose “active” renovation / conversion of it. You are expected to change its program, circulation, as well as to reinforce the structure if necessary. It can be modest or radical in appearance, which does not matter so much. The importance is how impactful your proposed architecture can be for the City, and the Prefecture. Who will use it? Who will construct it? Where the materials will come from? You will learn how various dimensions and scales in architectural design would matter. Mobilization of new technologies are welcome. But studying your design in scale with possible media (physical models / printed drawings, for example) are also required.

It will be the full-remote studio. Communication with the instructor is online. Design drawings of each building will be provided, through which you will enjoy the conversation with architects in the past. Guest lectures in various dimension and inputs from locals for your projects are being arranged. Your final proposals would be presented to the government of Gifu city, and Gifu prefecture.

Looking forward to making this virtual (but very actual) studio as fruitful and exciting as possible.


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