About SSD -English-

2010 Autumn


PBL1 : Media Axis

Studio Master:
Taro Igarashi, Tohoku University
Tatsuo Iso, Flick Studio

-How the Media of Paper Can Function in the Web Era-

We publish a magazine called S-meme that contains information on how paper can function in the web era, results of bookstore fieldwork, biographies of fi ctional architects, comments on cultural trends, and short features on SANAA. The groundbreaking design of the publication magically alters its content depending on the way in which one reads it.

PBL2 : Environmental Axis

Studio Master:
Toshikazu Ishida, Tohoku University
Lei Zhang, Nanjing Forestry University

Creating a Sustainable City Based on Its Water System

As a precondition for dealing with environmental problems such as climate change that are a consequence of global warming, we are examining the possibilities of interactive spaces based on artifi cial and green-infra living environments through water resources. In our studio, we focus on fl ood resilience in the center of Sendai, and the potential of a post-greyinfra urban design based on the distinctive fluvial terrace of the Hirose River, which allows for ecological water purifi cation and underground water retention in the metro area.

PBL3 : Social Axis

Studio Master:
Yasuaki Onoda. Tohoku University
Masayuki Kosugi. Development Bank of Japan Inc.
Yoshiyuki Miyachi, The Japan Economic Research Institute

The Potential of Sendai as a Creative City in Terms of Conventions

We study what type of convention policies might be effective in Sendai. Based on an analysis of cities and facilities in Japan and abroad that have succeeded as the site of conventions, lectures by people connected to the convention industry, and surveys of city workers, we came up with a proposal for an international center and other facilities in the surrounding Aobayama district to coincide with the opening of a new subway line.

PBL4 : Communication Axis

Studio Master:
Masashige Motoe, Tohoku University
Yasuto Nakanishi, Keio University Shonan Fujisawa Campus (SFC)

Hybrid Design Using Image Information and Built Environments

Radically reexamining the urban public transportation network by viewing public transport as a sport through the use of a speech-activated information system for walking in the city and websites that assemble “blank spaces” in urban transport, we propose hybrid designs made up of environments and information.

PBL5 : Global Axis

Studio Master:
Toshikazu Ishida, Yasuaki Onoda, Masashige Motoe, Tohru Horiguchi, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Senhiko Nakata, Migayi University, Sendai, Japan
Shoko Fukuya, Tohoku University of Technology, Sendai, Japan
Paul Minifie, Jan van Schaik,  Gretchen Wilkins, Stuart Harrison, Chris Gilbert, RMIT Architecture, Melbourne Australia
Jacques Brion, Élodie Nourrigat, Romain Jamot, Juliwn Bonnot, Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Montpellier (ENSAM), Montpellier, France

Traveling Workshop: Population Change and the Identity of the City

Traveling to Melbourne, we held an international workshop in conjunction with Australian and French architecture schools. Using Mildura, an inland city in the state of Victoria, as a case study, we examined urban and architectural design as a means of dealing with the problem of population growth in Australia.


Studio Master:
Junya Ishigami, junya.ishigami+associates

New Images of Architecture

We proposed invisible images of architecture. By surveying a variety of  Tohoku University researchers who are active in other fields, we arrived at new images of architecture.


Studio Master:
Akihisa Hirata, akihisa hirata architecture office


In a single tree, we find a layered structure in which the earth’s crust, the surface of the ground, the tree, and all of the plants and animals that live in it are tangled together. By imagining this tree on the fractal terrain of Tokyo’s linked valleys, we devise urbanscale architecture that will become tangled up with the environment there.

Opening Symposium

“The Threshold of Architecture: Design That is Open to and Opens Up the Environment”


Junya Ishigami
Akihisa Hirata


Taro Igarashi
Professor at Tohoku University


Tohru Horiguchi
Associate Professor at Tohoku University

On November 3, 2010, the architects Junya Ishigami and Akihisa Hirata, who are currently in charge of Future Lab, participated in the open-lecture segment of a symposium that was held at Sendai Mediatheque. Of the various themes discussed in the event, Ishigami said, “From new materials and spatial concepts, and topographies and climatic designs to the extraterrestrial environment, we can envision the development of a new world of architecture by taking an interdisciplinary approach between different fields.” Similarly, Hirata said, “Through a cooperative approach between architecture and related fields of research, such as biology and mathematics, we can create a prototypical proposal for a 21st century-style architectural scheme that will form a tangle with the environment.” These comments suggest the two architects’ shared interest in natural phenomena, topographies, plants, and other things that are a product of nature.

According to Taro Igarashi, the director of Media Axis, Ishigami and Hirata, both of whom were born in the 1970s, clearly display an interest in returning to the fundamental roots of architecture. It is interesting to imagine what sort of places might emerge for the collective behaviors that are defined by individual characteristics that arise when people gather in places like cities based on Hirata’s theme of “tangles” of layered structures that exist in a wide array of scales, from minute to massive. Hirata also explained how in the process that began with human beings migrating from eastern Africa as a species and eventually coming to cover the globe, they functioned like a fungus that fermented the earth’s surface, and thus altered the ground as they cultivated fields and built cities. As a means of fermenting the ground, people’s behavior, or the buildings and cities that they created, might also be seen as a kind of “tangle.”

According to Toru Horiguchi, the director of Global Axis, Ishigami’s installation Building Rain, expands our physical sensations in a way that we couldn’t normally experience in a regular building, daily life, or normal surroundings. In this way, we have the sense that the limits of our senses are being tested, and according to Horiguchi, the work clearly expresses an awareness of the fact that “spaces were originally formed out of gradations with a variety of scales. I would like to conceive of architecture in terms of the resolution that these spaces once contained. But for some reason of other, architecture has become detached from this kind of setting.” According to Ishigami, instead of things that haven’t occurred or things that haven’t been seen before, things that absorb a large amount of information will seem new in the futre. He also expressed the view that as a variety of information, both old and new, is handled in an equal manner, and a single direction can’t easily be determined, and because one characteristic of our age is the difficulty of arriving at a common image of the future, something that has the ability to absorb many things inherently contains new possibilities.

Ishigami also summed up the discussion by saying that although this era is one in which architecture can be made freely, this is no reason to alter the fundaments of architecture itself due to the simple fact that it is no longer restricted by previous periods in architectural history.

Symposium on the Accomplishments of the SSD: Panel Discussion Symposium

“The Globalization of Design Education”


Hitoshi Abe
Chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design / Director of the Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies
Toshikazu Ishida
Architect / Professor at Tohoku University
Koji Kamimiya
Assistant Director of the Higher Education Bureau at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology
Masato Nakamura
Artist / Associate Professor at Tokyo University of the Arts / General Director of 3331 Arts Chiyoda


Yasuaki Onoda
Professor at Tohoku University

In his role as a department chair at UCLA, Hitoshi Abe spoke about the strategy of creating alliances between universities and corporations, and the artist Masato Nakamura talked about some of his efforts outside the university to invigorate the regional area such as 3331 Arts Chiyoda. And after Koji Kamimiya, of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, reported on the current situation regarding university education, the panelists began a discussion with the SSD professors Yasuaki Onoda and Toshikazu Ishida.

Since reaching a peak in 1992, the population of 18-year olds in Japan has continued to decrease, dropping down to approximately 830,000, with only 56 percent of these people pursuing a university education. Based on these points and the distinctive fact that very few students in Japanese institutes of higher education are over 25, the panelists engaged in a heated exchange concerning the work of the university from both a local and a global perspective.

Nakamura, who in his role as a professor at Tokyo University of the Arts, provides practical training in art, and as the director of 3331 Arts Chiyoda, organizes exhibitions, commented, “I think it is important for each person to understand the reality of their existence as an individual in their own area and create their own place and their own culture for themselves. Art shouldn’t be positioned one step outside of society but should instead confront the reality of the situation, and create a place where it can move out in front.” He also stressed that the attraction of a platform – a place where artists can enjoy creating things, and one that arouses a creative impulse, and is also interesting for people to come and look at things – lies in its sustainability as a program.

Discussing his strategy since being named chair of the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, Abe said, “It’s difficult to change anything connected to the core program at the university. But as it presents more possibilities, trying to exert an influence from the outside is more likely to create change. I decided to make changes from the outside bit by bit.” He also stressed the need to expand the field of architecture itself as a subject in Japanese architectural education, and pointed out that educators should provide more professional training in design. Abe also suggested that the focus be placed on how to change the core while striking a balance between architecture and more general subjects. Further, he said that this was also applicable to managing the SSD and that it should be a theme of future discussions.

Kamimiya suggested that there was a need for the university to alter its past conception of itself as a place that only provided care and knowledge to students, and to become a platform that ensures a variety of different relationships. He also expressed the opinion that while striving to strengthen ties with the regional area by exploring the potential of things outside the core program and producing art for the local area, there is a need for a deeper mutual understanding between the university and the region.

In the latter half of the event, Ishida said, “In comparison to Western architectural education that was imbued with a sense of fluidity as exemplified by something like the Erasmus program, which transcends national boundaries, there is only a limited amount of freedom in the Japanese system.” Kamimiya responded by saying, “The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology is working to set aside a budget that will produce positive effects in this area such as creating a system to send students abroad for short periods of time.” Finally, Onoda summed up the discussion by saying, “We have a lot of homework to do in order to determine how to move forward with personnel education at the SSD.”