Studio 33

Studio Japan 2021: Kamijima

Mitchell Eaton and Nancy Ji

This studio is available to students enrolled in ABPL90142 Studio C, ABPL90143 Studio D, and ABPL90115 Studio E.

Studio Description

Studio Japan 2021 is the second edition of studios studying Japanese architecture and design at the MSD. We will look to the countryside as a source of inspiration and potential while responding to pressing contemporary issues. Japan is one of the first countries to enter a post-growth era with an aging and decreasing population that has prompted many revitalization efforts in recent years including many by artists and architects. The effects of social and economic decline are most visible in rural areas including the proposed site located in Kamijima, a collection of remote islands in the Seto Inland Sea accessible only by boat. The studio examines this rural landscape between land and sea from a physical and social perspective to interrogate the role of architecture in community revitalization, identity and creative place making.

Studio Outcomes

Students will design a series of interventions at various scales culminating in an architectural project that responds to environmental, social, and cultural contexts with the goal to facilitate meaningful exchange between residents and an increasing number of visitors and tourists. How can architecture strengthen social ties and ultimately revitalize a community? Learning outcomes include a deeper understanding of both traditional and contemporary Japanese architecture and design concepts as a basis to draw on local knowledge, craft and the vernacular. Students will also develop their ability to synthesize a complex web of ideas, drawing on site, culture, tradition, function and climate to create a considered, socially engaged architectural response for the contemporary rural landscape.

Studio Leaders

Nancy Yao Ji obtained her Master of Architecture from the University of Melbourne and TU Delft. She is a registered architect currently working at Bates Smart Architects in Melbourne and previously at Atelier Bow Wow and Kengo Kuma and Associates in Tokyo. Parallel to professional practice Nancy is a doctoral candidate at Keio University in Tokyo and is currently completing her PhD examining the role of architecture in revitalizing rural communities in Japan. She has taught at the Melbourne School of Design since 2015 in Architectural History and Theory and both Bachelor and Master Design Studios.

Mitch Eaton obtained his Master of Architecture from the University of Melbourne and has been teaching master level Design Studios at the Melbourne School of Design since 2015. He is a registered architect having worked with award winning practices including McBride Charles Ryan and Buro. Mitch is currently a project architect at Buro where he works on a range of projects across the residential, commercial and educational sectors. He spent 2019 living in Japan where he deepened his understanding of Japanese Architecture and Urbanism.

Readings & References

  • Fuji, Mihoyo. 2018. “Rural is the new black: Toyo Ito and his Omishima project.” Interaction Green. September 24, 2018.
  • Ji, Yao (Nancy). 2021. “Remaking the rural: Alternative forms of revitalization in post-growth Japan.” Proceedings of the 2020 APRU Sustainable Cities and Landscapes Conference at the University of Auckland.
  • Available from:
  • Knight, John. "Rural Revitalization in Japan: Spirit of the Village and Taste of the Country." Asian Survey 34, no. 7 (1994): 634-46. doi:10.2307/2645373.
  • Koolhaas, Rem. 2020. Countryside: A Report. Cologne: Taschen.
  • Ota, Kayoko. 2018. “Island and Villages: A documentary series on the posturban phenomenon in rural Japan.” Canadian Centre for Architecture.
  • Müller, Lars, Akiko Miki, Hiroshi Kagayama, and Iwan Baan. 2011. Insular insight: where art and architecture conspire with nature: Naoshima, Teshima, Inujima. Baden: Lars Müller Publishers.
  • Richie, Donald, and Yōichi Midorikawa. 2015. The Inland Sea. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press.
  • Inujima: Architecture Becomes Environment, Politecnico de Milano.
  • Transforming Omishima, Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Schedule Mondays 12:30-14:30, Thursdays 13:00-17:00

Contact Handbook

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