Cosmopolitan Environments

Research engaging the production of environments responsive to conditions of socio-cultural diversity and globalised mobility. Typical questions include: How to create spaces that satisfy diverse publics and resist tendencies toward homogenization? What are the distinctive characteristics of historically cosmopolitan cities and personalities? Such an investigation has particular relevance to a Japan that is becoming increasingly ethnically diverse and open to global flows.

Emergent Forms of Public Space in the Metropolis

The discourse engaging questions of contemporary urban public space has in general been a pessimistic one: public space is variously dying, dead, or was never alive to begin with. However the emergence of new technologies of online and mobile communication and interaction has complicated this assessment – perhaps public space has gone virtual? This topic investigates the intersection between virtual and physical spaces of public culture and social interaction in the contemporary metropolis, seeking ways in which architecture can engage and be engaged by the potential of such hybrid environments. The particularities of the Japanese contemporary metropolis would be an important site for this research.

Spaces and Places of Memory and Forgetting

The understanding of the complex ways that buildings and spaces become sites for memory (and forgetting) is growing in depth and importance worldwide. The growth of the sub-discipline of historical preservation is one indicator of this, but the question of how time and memory is embodied in space encompasses much more than this. This topic would encourage explorations of how the relations between the past and the present intersect with built form in concrete locations, and what architectural approaches can be imagined to enrich this intersection. A particular focus on Japanese examples would be useful here, due to the distinctive attitudes to time and obsolescence in Japanese culture, and as there is little knowledge about Japanese perspectives on these questions abroad.

Infrastructure Landscapes and Cultures

Research into urban infrastructures as a stimulus to and site for architectural thinking. Such research would examine the relevant institutions and systems, intentions and performances, spatiality and atmospheres, uses and experiences to derive perspectives that are relevant to architectural thinking and environmental design. To make the research manageable, students would choose one infrastructure and perhaps just one subcomponent of an infrastructure for detailed investigation. The metropolis of Tokyo provides a readymade complex field for the investigation of such infrastructures, but the approach could also be applied to other cities in Japan or abroad, or approached comparatively.