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Mutations in Japan’s Urban Landscape

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Director : Nicolas Fiévé (EPHE)

Associate Members : Benoît Jacquet (EFEO), Corinne Tiry-Ono (Ecole Nationale d’Architecture de Paris).
Doctoral Students : Soizik Bechetoille (EPHE), Andrea Flores-Urushima (EPHE), Yola Gloaguen (EPHE), Emmanuel Mares (EPHE), Giada Ricci (EPHE), Delphine Vomscheid (EPHE), Wu Xiaoxiao (EPHE).
Collaborators : Nicolas Blanchard (Tôkyô University), Sylvie Brosseau (Waseda University)

Partnership : EFEO

This project aims to carry out an epistemological investigation of Japanese cities in order to gain a better understanding of the different conceptions and productions of urban landscape and its dynamics in Japan. This approach will provide insight on the practices and discourses on urban heritage from a historical perspective, as well as highlight the unknown aspects of Japanese urban centres and the different ways in which memory is preserved and transmitted in a constantly changing environment. In this domain, among countries of East Asia, Japan represents a particularly interesting case for the light it sheds on cultural heritage preservation practices in Western and other East Asian countries. In the construction of its national identity from the late 19th century on, Japan became the first non-western country to define a protection policy for its architectural heritage. The conservation measures devised were applied to a wide range of areas, both urban and natural, throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Despite these innovative measures, the historical events of the 20th century and the massive destruction of urban centres in 1945 resulted in the nearly total disappearance of Japan’s pre-modern architectural heritage in most of its major cities, giving way to radical mutations in the country’s urban landscape. Nevertheless Japan is still one of the countries that invests the most in the management and enhancement of its cultural heritage and possesses technical and intellectual competencies that have remained largely unknown in the West and that today serve as models for other Asian countries. The programme includes workshops, a conference and a collective publication, and ultimately, the creation of a database of maps, images and texts on the modern history of Kyoto and its landscape.
Calendar : 1 October 2013 to end of 2017.