Beyond Scrap and Build: New Approaches towards Working with Existing Building Stock in Japan / EPFL Architecture, Archizoom, S AM


Event details

Date 15.11.2022
Hour 18:3020:00
Speaker Norihisa Kawashima, Yutaro Muraji, Mio Tsuneyama, Sarah Nichols
Category Conferences - Seminars
Event Language English
Panel Discussion with Norihisa Kawashima, Yūtarō Muraji, Mio Tsuneyama and Sarah Nichols (respondent)

Building culture in Japan has long been characterized by a “scrap-and-build” model, tearing down old buildings and erecting new ones in cycles of approximately thirty years to accommodate new needs. In recent years, however, financial constraints, declining demand for housing as the population shrinks, and an increased awareness of the environmental burden of this model have forced a shift from a consumption-centered "flow" paradigm to a "stock" paradigm whose emphasis lies on reusing existing building stock and building for the longer term. As rates of vacant houses in Japan reach new highs every year, the reactivation and transformation of the building stock inherited from previous generations is becoming an important – and urgent – new frontier in Japanese architectural practice.

In this event, three architects who are developing innovative approaches towards building beyond the scrap-and-build model will present on their research and practice.

> Yūtarō Muraji of CHAr focuses on the development of open-source “recipes” for DIY renovations of wooden rental apartment buildings, a mass housing typology that became prevalent in urban Japan during the post-war boom but is now often a cause of urban decay. Rather than focus on tailored solutions for individual buildings, his interest is in creating decentralized systems through which building transformations can be implemented in a mass scale. 

> Norihisa Kawashima of Nori Architects conducts research on mid-rise office buildings, a very common typology of building stock dating from the 1980s and 1990s, as an untapped resource in Japan. The recent project Good Cycle Building in Nagoya is a pilot project using salvaged, recycled, and upcycled materials for how such a renovation might look like. 

> On the scale of the individual building, Mio Tsuneyama (together with Fuminori Nousaku) is engaged in an ongoing experiment in „rewilding“ an unspectacular house from the 1980s through small and self-directed interventions in order to reconnect the building to the material, social, and thermal flows of the city.

Short presentations by the architects will be followed by a response and discussion moderated by Sarah Nichols, assistant professor of architecture at EPFL.

This event is organized on the occasion of the exhibition “Make Do With Now: New Directions in Japanese Architecture” (12 November 2022 – 12 March 2023) at the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel.

Norihisa Kawashima (born 1982) is an architect and founder of Nori Architects. He obtained his master’s degree from the University of Tokyo Graduate School in 2007, after which he was hired by Nikken Sekkei. In 2012, he became a visiting scholar at University of California, Berkeley and then, in 2014, became an assistant professor at the Department of Architecture of Tokyo Institute of Technology. Kawashima earned a PhD from the University of Tokyo Graduate School in 2016, before establishing Nori Architects in 2017. In 2020, Kawashima became a senior assistant professor at Meiji University, where he is now the principal of the Regional Design Laboratory.

Yūtarō Muraji (born 1987) is the founder of CHAr, a non-profit design firm based in Tokyo dedicated to the creation of next-generation urban habitats and the realization of social innovation through architectural approaches. He is also one of the founding partners of @KAMATA, a creative collective focusing on revitalization projects in the southern part of Tokyo that  local spatial properties as incubation space, galleries and SOHOs. Yūtarō studied architecture at Keio University and received his masters in 2012. He is currently a senior assistant professor at Meiji University and has taught and lectured at numerous academic institutions.

Mio Tsuneyama (born 1983) is a Japanese architect and founder of Studio mnm. She began her architectural studies at Tokyo University of Science (TUS) and graduated from the EPFL in 2008 as Swiss Government International Scholarships student. She served as an intern at Bonhôte Zapata Architectes Genève, from 2005 to 2006 and worked as an architect at HHF Architects in Basel from 2008 to 2012. Following her return to Japan, she has taught at TUS as assistant professor and lecturer since 2013. In 2022, she was invited to teach as guest professor at EPFL in 2022. Her work has been presented at the Japanese Pavilion in the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, among others.

Sarah Nichols is an assistant professor of architecture at EPFL and director of the lab THEMA (Theory of Environment and Materials in Architecture). Her scholarly work examines the environmental and political entanglements of construction, particularly through building materials. Her material retrospective Béton was recently shown at the Swiss Architecture Museum in Basel. She is currently working on a book manuscript Opération Béton: Constructing Concrete in Switzerland based on her dissertation for which she was awarded the ETH Medal. 

Practical information

  • General public
  • Free


  • EPFL Architecture, Archizoom, S AM Swiss Architecture Museum


  • Cyril Veillon


architecture Japan