Architecture in the Floating World

Japanese architecture and design have long fascinated a global audience. The masterful combination of aesthetic elegance, functional pragmatism, technological sophistication, and precision in craft that characterizes exemplary works from Japan has exerted a strong influence abroad, especially during the last two centuries.

In this study abroad course, we address questions such as: What unique design opportunities are created within this so-called “floating world?” How do Japanese designers balance the ephemeral with the concrete? How does such a dense urban environment relate to the scale of material details? How are conflicts resolved between privacy and publicity, modernism and tradition, or Western and Japanese qualities?

Participants in this traveling design studio conduct in-depth analysis and generate critical design proposals situated within Tokyo and beyond. Working in collaboration with students and faculty from the Tokyo University of Science, students are also exposed to meaningful aspects of Japanese culture and daily life that go beyond a typical tourist’s superficial perspective of Japan.

ARCH 4150/5550: January or May Term in Japan. Co-taught with Kaori Ito (Tokyo University of Science). Undergraduate and graduate travel abroad studio (3 credits). University of Minnesota School of Architecture.

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