Building communities 3
Social minority communities, social status & living conditions
At OSAKA in JapanIn 2008
By Architecture Sans Frontières - UK
Local partners: CASE
Donors: GB Sasakawa Foundation, DaiwaAnglo Japanese Foundation and Self funding
In Easter 2008 the ‘Building Communities’ workshop series continued in the KitaShiba area of Osaka, Japan with local partner CASE Japan. Participants experienced a city where public housing has been formalized, and were given opportunities to understand the after-effects of slum eradication and an effective community upgrading programme. Working within one of Japan’s social minority communities (the Buraku), participants explored the housing solutions provided by the Minoh government and those solutions the community developed in order to cope with their change in social status and living conditions. This was achieved through a series of lectures and interactive exercises, which focused on four main issues affecting the social realm including public housing, public spaces, and homelessness in the land of housing and issues of social interactions. The participants developed an understanding of the Barakumin discrimination issue in Japan and an insight into the complexities of working as a professional with communities in long term development projects. Through the partnership with CASE they explored the methods and techniques a local architecture practice employs when working with communities, and prototyped a tool for community engagement that was shared and enhanced by the local community on the Community Spring Festival day (which coincided with the final day of the workshop).
The group had started the two weeks with expectations of engaging with the local community and exploring an unknown side of Japan. At the same time they were keen to find out what an architect can specifically do in this kind of project with his/her skills. The workshop enabled students to learn about the current social housing strategy in Japan and broaden their skills as architects to engage with a community and some of the complex issues it faces.