Within the interconnected global flow of people, goods and information cities are increasingly competing to distinguish themselves and to attract and serve citizens, businesses and tourists. The global proliferation of city branding, theming, mega projects and mega events is steering cities towards standardised strategies. Architects can contribute to efforts to shape the world of tomorrow by articulating productive alternatives and proposing visions to catalyse discussions and actions across diverse audiences. Architects should be sensitive to local conditions and bold enough to help expand perspectives and possibilities. How might intellectual and design speculation help guide financial speculation to shape future growth and change?
Using Osaka, which is Japan’s second largest city and Melbourne’s sister city, as a testing ground, this studio will produce a suite of provocative urban proposals and stimulating architectural projects as speculative catalysts for the future of Umeda in central Osaka. We will examine diverse networks interconnecting the Umeda site. We will develop three-dimensional porous open space matrixes as armatures for coordinating diverse linked activities and catalytic interventions. Observations and analyses of existing conditions will fuel design speculations that envision the evolution and mutation of Umeda.
The studio will engage with complex conditions and constituencies, such as the Umeda Area Management Alliance. We will explore ideas through proposals and projects and pay careful attention to the multi-media communication of ideas. We will conduct fieldwork in Japan and collectively develop urban strategies with Japanese colleagues. Resulting strategies will provide a fertile context for individual design of interventions. Studio participants will produce a package of urban proposals and articulate architectural projects that re ect the rigorous investigation and materialisation of key ideas across multiple scales – from city to building to details.
Design explorations will combine Japanese architectural and urban developments with global discourses and practices. The studio will be paired with a Japanese architecture studies unit and a required three-week research trip to Japan including an intensive workshop with partners at Kobe University, as well as extensive travel to examine Japanese exemplars. The trip is sponsored by MGS. Design explorations will be located in the Japanese context, but help forge foundations for global speculations on urban futures.