Part II of the AIA Crafting the Future Conference started on Wednesday, November 16th with a bullet train ride from Tokyo to Nagoya. Ken Oshima, associate professor at University of Washington Architecture and Urban Planning, and conference chair, led our group of 80+ people through 4 days of sightseeing through Western Japan. One of my favorite images and memories - was a village overlooking Takayama valley nestled in the Japan Alps. According to the AIA conference brochure, "the high altitude and separation from other areas of Japan kept the area fairly isolated, allowing Takayama to develop its own culture over about a 300 year period".
Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, we spent a few hours to wander the Hida Folk Village, an open air museum famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses. We learned that due to the heavy snowfall in the Gifu Prefecture, the architecture style of thick thatched roofs developed over generation of craftsmen. Each roof costs $260,000+/- to replace the nail-less constructions. Word got out that there was a construction crew replacing one of the roofs. As a chance to observe the construction process, our group of 80+ architects and friends, we migrated like a single entity to go watch. Architects, especially the group involved with the AIA Committee on Design, are especially interesting because they desire to understand, draw, and observe the world and how it works. There were countless conversations on moments of learning, teaching and apprenticeship that occurred on this trip. More than once on the trip, groups would form to stop, pause, think, converse, and sketch and to understand their environment.
The picture on the left is a perfect illustration that shows our group watching the construction crew thatching the roof. AIA’s Crafting the Future conference helped to frame an understanding for the variables of material and construction, how a society interacts and with space, and the crafting of place. These pictures remind me of the sense of Architect that is able to help be a conductor of materiality and human needs.There is respect for Japanese tradition and culture infused in the architecture. I’m excited to follow the AIA Committee on Design online during their next gathering Defining Architectural Design Excellence on Thursday, April 12 - Sunday, April 15, 2012, Columbus, Indiana and possibly save up my money for the next AIA COD travel tour.
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