Japan Trip Informational Meeting

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Summer 2014 - May 20 to June 4
Arch 492/792: Japan 2013: Hidden Order – Historic Preservation in a High-Tech Country – 3 credits (Theory)
Arch 492/792: Japan 2013: Historic Building Documentation – 3 credits (Practice)
Instructor: Matthew Thomas Jarosz (mjarosz@uwm.edu)

This course offers students a foreign study experience in the principles of building design and urban planning in a uniquely different setting. The loss of historic fabric and the intense pressure of growth and modernization in all countries have reduced our collective sense of identification with the past. Removing elements of heritage, as represented through the medium of the built environment, ignores the role that they have on both an economic and emotional level. This course offers students a hands-on understanding of a country fully embracing modernization yet challenged by a pervasive and important architectural history.

Course Intent
The intent of this foreign study program is to offer students an opportunity to understand preservation in a uniquely different culture. As the support for preservation expands throughout the world, our conventional European-based frame of reference becomes challenged. The growing populations and urban redevelopment plans in Asian countries, along with their long history of wood construction, create a preservation environment that is quite different from ours. They have been victimized by unthinkable demolition, but have also advanced some very creative solutions. The pedagogical intent of this program is to not only examine those successes and failures but also to provide collaborating information about the preservation challenges that we are faced with. The ultimate intent is to create an atmosphere of academic exchange that builds upon insights and successes from both places.

A key component of that information exchange is our long-standing collaborative agreements with Wakayama University, south of Osaka, and Kogakuin University in Tokyo. Since 1996 our Universities have worked together to facilitate education in each country. UWM students have participated in preservation workshops and tours in Japan, as well as hosting Japanese preservation students in the Midwest. Our programs continue to expand.

While the historic preservation program at SARUP has, for years, included opportunities for preservation study in Europe for up to 12 credits, this Japanese preservation experience is structured to be limited and affordable. As a 6 credit course, it gives students a chance to fully emerge themselves in a non-western culture without the time and financial burdens of an entire semester abroad. This course is intended to offer a foreign study experience to a wider range of student participants.

As an elective course, it is also an important component of qualification for the Certificate of Preservation Studies in the Master of Architecture degree program at SARUP. While offering theoretical and academic insights into the matter of historic preservation in Japan, this course also includes an historic building documentation workshop. This workshop experience is focused on an endangered building or site in Japan identified by our Japanese counterparts, and results in a field documentation set. The field set includes a literary history, a set of autocad drawings, and an analysis of existing conditions. This field documentation workshop has the multi-dimensional effect of educating students in the matter of quick and accurate building documentation as well as providing a crucial hands-on learning experience into the details of Japanese wood construction. Additionally, the workshop portion of the trip will include hands-on heritage construction experiences. Students will design and construct traditional Japanese mud-walls, work with wood joinery traditional tools, and complete historic thatch roof construction.