Tokyo Study Abroad Seminar: The Japan Syndrome

The Japan syndrome – shrinking, aging, combined natural disasters – is forcing the whole population to think of how to survive post-modernization. Under Abe’s new progressive economic regime, numerous solutions are being created and tested more and more by new players of urbanism – electric manufacturers, big-data managers, developers, housing manufacturers, entrepreneurs or activists – who prioritize efficiency, safety and marketability and who don\’t need to rely so much on classic urban planners or architects.

That’s how the whole new skyline Tokyo – including the controversial new national stadium – will be made by 2020. Essentially, it’s a crisis for architects. What Kenzo Tange and Metabolism offer as a historical reference here are not so much their formal or technical inventions as their ambition and tact to have architecture integrated with the social ambition. The profession in Japan now, as a forerunner of the post-growth condition, seems obliged to reestablish their role in a new social and market structure.

To the seminars will be brought some of the said new players of urbanism who can share how they build cities in unconventional ways; young architects who have opted to design with users abandoning authorship or to not build at all; corporate decision-makers for the capital’s transformation towards 2020 and beyond. Their presentations will not only offer fresh facts but an opportunity to clarify gaps, flaws, voids or creative potentials in the new vector of urbanism that can be complemented or preempted by the architectural profession or perhaps architectural thinking.