052-1111-23L  Architectural Design V-IX: Japan Studio (GD K.Kadowaki/T.Kai/R.Iwase)

SemesterAutumn Semester 2023
LecturersK. Kadowaki, R. Iwase, T. Kai
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish
CommentPlease register (Link) only after the internal enrolment for the design classes (see Link).

Project grading at semester end is based on the list of enrolments on 1.11.2023 (valuation date) only. This is the ultimate deadline to unsubscribe or enroll for the studio.


052-1111-24 UArchitectural Design V-IX: Japan Studio (GD K.Kadowaki/T.Kai/R.Iwase)
No course 24/25.10 (seminar week).
16 hrs
Tue09:45-17:30ONA E 25 »
Wed08:00-17:30ONA E 25 »
K. Kadowaki, R. Iwase, T. Kai

Catalogue data

AbstractThe Japan Studio assignment is to design a tearoom as an extension of the cafe on the Hönggerberg campus and to assemble the structure using construction waste. Students will be challenged to reinterpret Japanese wooden architecture, which established a sophisticated circular economy, in the context of contemporary Switzerland, and to create a new architectural philosophy and technology.
ObjectiveThe studio is divided into three phases. The competencies to be acquired in each phase are as follows.

1st Phase: Building Elements Study (4 weeks)
- understanding of basic principles of building construction
- creation method by reinterpreting existing building elements
- craftsmanship skills in working with building elements

2nd Phase: Designing ‘Tearoom’ (4 weeks)
- ability to read the context of the surroundings
- planning ability to mediate conflicting demands
- conceptual ability to find an extraordinary space in an everyday space
- ability to design a distinctive form with an intimate space

3rd Phase: Building ‘Tearoom’ using Construction Waste(5 weeks)
- execution design ability from the perspective of construction
- understanding of basic materials and processing methods with construction waste
- ability to select appropriate materials, details, and processing methods
- ingenuity in construction, such as jigs for processing and assembly
- teamwork ability
The Japan Studio was established to exchange architectural culture between Japan and Switzerland in a contemporary context to look for new architectural answers to the sustainability issues that have rapidly become common world problems. In the Fall 2023 semester, a practical design studio will be conducted spanning architectural design and construction.
The task is to design a tea room as an annex of the Alumni Lounge at the Hönggerberg campus, and to assemble the designed building (or parts of it) using construction waste materials, referring to the Japanese architecture in the early modern period.
Because Japan was under a national isolation system in the early modern period, a sophisticated circular economy was established. The architecture then had been developed as a technological system that allowed for the reuse of materials as a matter of course. In addition, the influence of Zen culture led to the development of design techniques, such as "borrowed scenery" that harmonized and sublimated the surrounding scenery with the architectural space.
Such architectural thinking unique to early modern Japan must be helpful for modern architecture, which faces significant challenges such as the finite nature of resources and the chaos of urban landscapes. Students will challenge themselves to reinterpret the ideas of Japanese architecture developmentally in the context of contemporary Switzerland, and to create the germ of a new architectural philosophy and technology that will be required in the coming age.

Site and Building to Be Designed:
The site is located around the Alumni Lounge of the Hönggerberg campus, where we will design a tea room / Lounge furniture as an extension to the cafe. We want it to be a special and intimate place to spend special time with friends or guests invited to the university.
The design will consist of tea spaces of no more than 10 square meters deployed inside and outside of the cafe. The tea room will be realised, in cooperation with l with the operators of the Alumni Lounge.

Studio Configuration:
Japan Studio consists of three phases. Students will develop comprehensive architectural skills spanning history, design, and construction through these phases.

1st Phase: Building Elements Study (4 weeks)
In the first phase, students will learn about demolished buildings that provide waste materials to be reused, and will be trained to open up the characteristics of the waste materials to new architectural possibilities. Specifically, students will research the history and industrial background of the demolished building (Huber Pavilions), as well as create a full-scale portion of a building element using the waste materials.

2nd Phase: Designing ‘Tearoom’ (4 weeks)
In the second phase, students will learn about Japanese tearooms and spatial design, and design a "new tearoom" as an extension to a small café on the ETH premises.
While learning about the design concepts of "having a small but rich world", "feeling enclosed and connected", and "finding resources in a limited environment", all of which are common to tearoom architecture, students will observe the issues and potential attractions of the target site and how to find resources in a limited environment through the design of small architectural interventions. Final deliverables will include a presentation to the cafe operators.

3rd Phase: Building ‘Tearoom’ using Construction Waste (5 weeks)
In the third phase, students will produce the designed tearoom at 1/1 scale through group work and learn about the characteristics of basic materials such as wood, metal, and resin, as well as processing and joining methods. Students will be using dry construction methods that do not use adhesives, using details that will not wear off during assembly and dismantling. In order to realize the conceived space, technical invention from both form and material is required.
Lecture notesEach student will receive a printed reader, containing the basic information about the course, such as schedule, syllabus and other important information, as well as examples and references for the design task, and readings to support the theoretical framework of the course.
Literature- Kadowaki, Kozo (ed.) “Co-ownership of Action: Trajectories of Elements”, TOTO Publishing, Tokyo, 2020
- Brown, Azby “Just Enough: Lessons from Japan for Sustainable Living, Architecture, and Design”, Stone Bridge Press, Berkeley, 2009
Watanabe, Yasutada “Kogyo-ka he no Michi, No.1”, Fuji Sash Kogyo, Tokyo, 1963 (in Japanese)
- Utida, Yoshitika “Nihon no Dento Kenchiku no Koho: Junansei to Jumyo”, Ichigaya Publishing, Tokyo, 2009 (in Japanese)
Ching, Francis D. K. “A Visual Dictionary of Architecture”, Wiley, Hoboken, 1995
- Seike, Kiyoshi “The Art of Japanese Joinery”, Weatherhill, Boulder, 1977
Tsukamoto, Yoshiharu, “WindowScape: Window Behaviourology”, Page One Publishing, Victoria , 2011
- Itoh, Teiji, Isozaki, Arata “Nihon no Toshi Kukan”, Shokokusha, Tokyo, 1968 (in Japanese)
- “33 Japanese Teahouses: From Rikyu and Enshu to Modern Times”, “a+u” Special Issue November 2022, Shinkenchiku-sha, Tokyo, 2022
- IKE, ZHAW, Stricker, Eva, Brandi, Guido, Sonderegger, Andreas, Buser, Barbara “Re-Use in Construction: A Compendium for Circular Architecture”, Park Books, Zürich, 2022
Prerequisites / NoticeIntroduction: September 19th
Mid Review 1: October 10th
Mid Review 2: November 14th
Final Review: December 19th

Location: ONA Langhalle
Subject-specific CompetenciesConcepts and Theoriesassessed
Techniques and Technologiesassessed
Method-specific CompetenciesAnalytical Competenciesfostered
Media and Digital Technologiesfostered
Project Managementassessed
Social CompetenciesCommunicationfostered
Cooperation and Teamworkassessed
Customer Orientationfostered
Leadership and Responsibilityfostered
Self-presentation and Social Influence fostered
Sensitivity to Diversityassessed
Personal CompetenciesAdaptability and Flexibilityfostered
Creative Thinkingassessed
Critical Thinkingassessed
Integrity and Work Ethicsfostered
Self-awareness and Self-reflection fostered
Self-direction and Self-management assessed

Performance assessment

Performance assessment information (valid until the course unit is held again)
Performance assessment as a semester course
ECTS credits14 credits
ExaminersK. Kadowaki, R. Iwase, T. Kai
Typegraded semester performance
Language of examinationEnglish
RepetitionRepetition only possible after re-enrolling for the course unit.
Additional information on mode of examinationUltimate deadline for changing enrolments for this course is 1.11.2023, 24:00 h.
After this date it is strictly forbidden to enrol for the course or to delete the enrolment!

Learning materials

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Offered in

Architecture BachelorArchitectural Design (from 5. Semester on)WInformation