Studio leaders: Mitchell Eaton and Nancy Ji
Japan Studio 2020 is a Master of Architecture studio originally conceived with a travel component in the form of a 10-day study tour to Japan, which was unfortunately cancelled due to COVID19. Even though we were unable to travel, students enthusiastically took the challenge of studying Japanese design principles and explored how they can be applied appropriately to the Australian context. As a starting point of inquiry, we examined the countryside of rural Japan where valuable qualities such as strong social bonds and self-sufficient lifestyles can provide inspiration for the current urban context. We also looked deep into Japanese culture and customs including the traditional craft and construction techniques. Each student hand crafted their own Japanese timber joint as one of the early exercises which was further explored into the design of a piece of furniture. This attention to detail at a finer scale was to be applied to the final project as well.
One of the main aims of the studio was to translate ideas from village life through a contemporary lens and propose solutions to urban problems such as social isolation through the design of a major mixed-use project as a vertical community. Sharing a common site in Melbourne CBD at the corner of Little Lonsdale and Elizabeth Streets, opposite Kisho Kurokawa’s Melbourne Central project, students were asked to design their own briefs to create a mixed-use building that was capable of housing multiple functions in a symbiotic community network. Each student generated their own set of programs based on rigorous individual research. The proposed mix of programs co-exist to create a community with strong connections that can efficiently share resources, spaces, and social capital in a sustainable way. Short-term pop-up style programs and activation during both day and night nights were encouraged with the goal of producing a vibrant building that responds to its surrounding environment resulting in a rich a varied body of work.