ArchiWEB Explorer: Japan

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K-House in Tsujido-Higashi / Ushijima Architects

© Kengaku Tomooki © Kengaku Tomooki
© Kengaku Tomooki © Kengaku Tomooki

Text description provided by the architects. This is a wooden 2-story house for family of 4 members, located in about 1km from Shonan-seaside. (Shonan is the most famous seaside area near Tokyo)

The Architectural Trends that Dominated News Stories in 2018

MARS Case. Image © WU Qingshan MARS Case. Image © WU Qingshan

In a year packed with headlines, you’d be forgiven for occasionally letting them pass you by. But even within the mass of project proposals, awards, competitions, and events, a few trends emerged in 2018 - trends that both tell us about the year past and suggest where things might be heading. These trends, below:

Net Zero

Courtesy of Sydney Opera House Courtesy of Sydney Opera House

Even in the wake of the US’ shameful departure from the Paris Agreement in 2017, plans for designing a net zero future have not abated. In September, 19 mayors of cities across the US committed, with climate action group C40, to ensure that by 2030 all new structures built in their cities are net zero.

Dispersed Hotel: Distributed Urban Suites Inspire Exploration of Historic Kyoto

[ By WebUrbanist in Boutique & Art Hotels & Travel. ]

It’s a simple but powerful idea, spreading out and embedding hotel rooms into the urban fabric to give visitors a space from which to explore as well as a place that feels like it’s more part of the city than a monolithic tourist resort. The Hotel Enso Ango features a series of zen-inspired buildings and landscaping in what it boasts as Japan’s first ‘dispersed hotel’ in the ancient capital of Kyoto.

The idea, in part, is to encourage travel between the buildings in the hotel network, both to experience their amenities but also to explore more along the way. In simple terms: it aims to combine the best of staying at a cozy bed-and-breakfast with the benefits of a high-end hotel.

Japan is Selling Dilapidated Homes for Extremely Low Prices to Alleviate its Housing Crisis

via Flickr. Image © Bo Nielsen via Flickr. Image © Bo Nielsen

Today, many individuals, both young and old, desire to buy property, redesign, and refurbish an existing house into their dream home. Umbrellaed under terms like “fixer-upper” and “adaptive reuse,” these projects begin with the skeletons of old structures and the building’s history. Many architects around the globe have utilized abandoned structures and transformed them into architectural marvels for both civic and domestic purposes.

Japan, in particular, has implemented a system to help alleviate the country’s current housing crisis. Despite rising urban real estate prices and limited space, over 8 million properties across Japan are unoccupied - according to a government report in 2013. It is believed that around 2 million of these structures are abandoned and deserted. Following the current trends, these numbers continue to grow each year. It is estimated that 21 million homes will be unoccupied by 2033.

Continuing House / Naf Architect & Design

© Toshiyuki Yano © Toshiyuki Yano
  • Architects: Naf Architect & Design
  • Location: Yokosuka, Japan
  • Architects In Charge: Akio Nakasa (Principal Architect) , Teppei Amano
  • Area: 104.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2017
  • Photographs: Toshiyuki Yano

When Infrastructure Costs More Than Money: History’s Deadliest Projects

[ By SA Rogers in Culture & History & Travel. ]

Construction is a deadly industry. Falls, electrocution, blunt force trauma and mishaps with heavy machinery are just a few of the hazards workers face on project sites around the world, whether they’re building a small house or a massive dam. Historically, it hasn’t just been the nature of the work that makes this job so dangerous, but also attempts to cut costs and boost productivity at the expense of worker safety. Though tighter regulations have made mass worker deaths less common, they still happen, and the numbers can still be shocking.

When we calculate the costs for major infrastructure projects, we rarely include human lives in the figures. How do we do that math, anyway? Bridges, canals, tunnels, dams, railways and highways have made a lot of human “progress” possible over the last two centuries, but it’s worthwhile to consider their true toll – and remember that many of the dead were migrant workers, colonized people and prisoners.

These Crafted Bookends are Inspired by the Alleyways of Tokyo

© <a href='https://twitter.com/monde55212068'>Twitter user mode</a> © <a href='https://twitter.com/monde55212068'>Twitter user mode</a>

Tokyo-based designer monde has created a series of bookends inspired by the narrow back alleys of Tokyo. As described by My Modern Met, the bookends convey the “dizzying feeling of wandering the city’s back alleys” through a mixture of laser-cut wood and lighting.

The results of the two-year project were debuted at the Design Festa arts and crafts event, where they caught the eye of outlets across Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.

6 Architectural Responses to Climate Change in 2018

Photo.Synth.Etica / ecoLogicStudio © NAARO Photo.Synth.Etica / ecoLogicStudio © NAARO

As part of a global, interdisciplinary effort to tackle climate change, architects are devoting resources towards optimizing the energy efficiency of buildings old and new. This effort is more than justified, given that buildings account for almost 40% of UK and US emissions. As awareness of the issue of climate change becomes more apparent each year, so too do the architectural responses. 2018 was no exception.

In a year that saw wildfires rage across California, hurricanes in Florida, and mudslides in Japan, the architectural community has put forward a wealth of proposals, both large and small scale, which seek to mitigate against the role the built environment plays in inducing climate change. 

Ranging from a biological curtain in Dublin to a radical masterplan for Boston, we have rounded up six developments in the architectural fight against climate change that we published throughout 2018.

House in Usuki / Kenta Eto Architects

© Toshiyuki Yano © Toshiyuki Yano
© Toshiyuki Yano © Toshiyuki Yano

Text description provided by the architects. The site is located on the rolling hills of Usuki-city in Oita Prefecture.

Honda Woods – Vibrant forests for our children, for our communities

Soichiro Honda’s dream – home-woods
The founder of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. used to say that there should not be concrete walls between Honda factories and the surrounding communities. “Instead, there should be a tie between us” said, the founder. Honda Woods project was launched in the year of 1976, respecting the founder’s strong will. The company looked into tree species which were suitable for the environment at each factory nationwide and planted them to create a woodland, which was called “home-woods.”

What had happened in the past thirty years?
Since 1976, the home-woods at each company factory had grown much larger than their prediction and the neighborhood had been developed further and populated more. The fallen leaves were scattered on the ground and the overgrown woods even made the neighbors feel insecure. The home-woods, which was created to build a strong tie instead of concrete walls to isolate the company from the neighbors, had become just another kind of wall to interfere the communications.