Sign up for Japan, Summer 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer 2012 - May 28 to June 24
Arch 497/797: Japan 2013: Hidden Order – Historic Preservation in a High-Tech Country – 3 credits (Theory)
Arch 497/797: Japan 2013: Historic Building Documentation - A Field Manual – 3 credits (Practice)
Instructor: Matthew Thomas Jarosz (
Cost per student $5900 – based on 10 students – airfare not included
6 Credits (Studio credit possible with some modifications)

I possess no specialized knowledge of architecture, but I understand that in the Gothic cathedral of the West, the roof is thrust up and up so as to place its pinnacle as high in the heavens as possible – and that herein is thought to lie its special beauty. In the temples of Japan, on the other hand, a roof of heavy tiles is first laid out, and in the deep, spacious shadows created by the eaves the rest of the structure is built. Nor is this true only of temples; in the palaces of the nobility and the houses of the common people, what first strikes the eye is the massive roof of tile or thatch and the heavy darkness that hangs beneath the eaves.

Juni’ichiro Tanizaki ‘In Praise of Shadows’

This foreign study trip offers students a unique experience in the principles of historic preservation as practiced in a non euro-based environment. The loss of older and historic buildings in all countries has reduced our collective sense of identification with the past. The challenges faced in Japan (and pacific-rim countries in general) offer us an entirely new and untapped source of information and collaboration. Lack of buildable land area, introduction of high-tech materials and construction methods, and diverging attitudes about the role of history and historic buildings, presents us with preservation challenges of the highest order. Through the assistance of several Japanese Universities, we will engage in a unique educational experience that will study architectural design and historic preservation both as public policy and as building construction.

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.