Tokyo’s Book City

The district of Jimbo-cho in downtown Tokyo has been the center of book culture from the Edo period when the first government school, later to become Tokyo University, was established there. Surrounded by seven universities and more than twelve professional schools, Jimbo-cho has provided new, old, and rare books to students, researchers, and the general public. This quarter of small scale wooden structures has survived earthquakes, fires, and bombing making it one of the few remaining districts of the pre-war period. With its small lanes, dense building fabric, and heavy pedestrian use, today it is home to more than 130 book shops, and over 100 small publishing companies. Due to its coveted location at the city center, Jimbo-cho is under considerable development pressure, particularly as the condition of older buildings declines and the publishing industry turns from paper to digital technology. Nonetheless, the urban quality, and intellectual resource represented by the district demand careful consideration of future development strategies.The purpose of the design studio will be to investigate the district, its history, its physical patterns, and its potential for transformation. After a period of research, site strategies for both growth and preservation will be developed. Within the framework of differing strategies, specific sites will be chosen for architectural development. The goal is to discover more broadly applicable strategies for controlled growth and development in valuable historic districts. Schedule:Weeks 1-3 – research and background studyWeek 4 – Site visit to Tokyo (October 4-11)Weeks 5-8 – Development of Site StrategiesWeeks 9-13 – Development of Architectural Proposal