Newsletter from the President and Vice Presidents

President Toru TAKEUCHI (Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology)

In the spring of 2023, the effects of the infectious diseases of the past three years have finally subsided, and a "normal life" atmosphere is returning. However, it is important to look back at what normal life was and what we have learned from the experience over these years. While many people have sadly passed away, and our mobility and activities have been severely restricted, we have also seen the rapid advancement of online conferencing and distance learning infrastructure that has allowed for greater diversity in the way we percept and approach modern life. These changes have had healing effects on the challenges of 21st-century urban life, including greater freedom in the lives of dual-income couples raising children, less concentration in large cities and improved potential for rural residence, and reduced energy consumption due to less travel, and I believe that such diversity should be improved even further regardless of epidemic circumstances. In terms of Japan, declining birthrates, aging population, deterioration of old-style academic and industrial competitiveness, and depopulation of rural areas have rather accelerated. In response to the recommendations of the DX task force and the task force for advancement in academia, arts and technology, which have been under the leadership of former president Tanabe for the past two years, we are planning to activate the following measures from this year.
1. Developing academic society services that transcend regional, national or gender boundaries through efficient use of ICT.
2. Disseminating information and news from AIJ to the world.
3. Contributing to the development of disaster-resistant regions and cities where young people desire to live.
We would like to initiate concrete actions under the themes of these three areas. We would be grateful for your support and interest.

Vice Presidents Ken’ichi KAWAGUCHI (Professor, The University of Tokyo)

20th Anniversary of AIJ Architectural Museum

More and more news of demolition and preservation activities of modern and contemporary architectural masterpieces are reported. Of course, the aging and preservation of valuable buildings is nothing new, and the proper preservation of architectural materials has been pointed out since long time ago. The Architectural Institute of Japan has been highly aware of these issues.

In 1986, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the institute, we have submitted a “Written Request for Establishment of the Architectural Museum” to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education. After this, the "Basic Concept of AIJ Architectural Museum" was put together in 1994, and in 2003 the Museum has started under the chairman (director), Shoji Hayashi. Compared to the grand plan of 1986, it has started as a "modest" activity. During 20 years since then, the museum have held many exhibitions, and organized archives of Chuta Ito's materials. In many ways, the activities have been supported mainly by voluntary activities based on the passion and sense of mission of the members of the Architectural Museum committee.

With the rapid development of digital tools, the digitization of various materials and digital archiving technology using 3D data of buildings have become more practical than before. At the same time, the value of buildings and materials that can be physically touched and felt has increased. The importance of existence of the AIJ Architectural Museums, as well as the functions that society expects to it, are gradually diversifying and changing. The importance of the museum as a contact point with the general people is also increasing, since AIJ is an organization called "academic society", which is often regarded to have a certain distance from the lives of ordinary people. Under these circumstances, I feel that it is the time to carefully review the position of the Architectural Museum, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. It is also important to have functional cooperation with the "AIJ Library", which holds valuable materials within the institute and is also in the trend of being digitalized.
Ten years ago, the “the National Archives of Modern Architecture, Agency for Cultural Affairs” has been established. Organizing an "archives network" among such architectural museums, institutions and libraries is extremely important in order to make effective use of limited resources throughout Japan. Within the organization of the Architectural Institute of Japan, it seems to be a realistic and urgent mission for the "AIJ Architectural Museum" to aim to function as the "hub" of such "architectural archives networks" in Japan and even in Asia. On the other hand, the various constraints of the Architectural Institute of Japan are not necessarily conforming to the functions and activities expected to the "architectural museum." It might be possible to discuss that some functions of the museum can be separated from it to perform independent organizations.
At the 4th Museum Committee meeting held the other day, I was very much impressed to hear thoughts from members of the museum committee. The necessity of archiving architectural materials is increasing day by day, not just in Japan but also in many countries in the world.

On May 30th, the new governing body led by prof. Toru Takeuchi was inaugurated. I have one year left in my term as vice president, and I have renewed my resolve to continue running for the Architectural Institute of Japan with prof. Takeuchi.

Shigeyoshi YAMAMOTO
Vice Presidents Shigeyoshi YAMAMOTO (Executive Corporate Officer Chief Design Officer Principal Architect Architectural Design Department, KUME SEKKEI Co.,Ltd)

This term marks my second year as Vice President. I will continue to make efforts for the society for one more year, making use of my unique experience in the industrial world. I look forward to your continued support.
On May 30, the General Meeting and Award Presenting Ceremony were held at the Hall of the Architectural Hall. It has been a long time since we have been able to hold a real meeting, and the presentation ceremony felt very festive and solemn, and I was caught up in a nostalgic feeling. I was reminded once again of my own feeling of having become accustomed to the remote in the past few years, and felt that COVID 19 had continued to subtly change even the most casual of human emotions.
Beyond the issue of preservation of famous architectural structures such as tangible cultural properties, which I discussed in my last message, the problem of vacant houses, which can be found anywhere, is becoming increasingly serious. It is surprising that the number of vacant houses is increasing more rapidly in urban centers than in rural areas where the population is declining, but I also feel that it is a mirror of the current social situation.
The generation that supported Japan's rapid economic growth and worked hard to acquire and maintain their own homes is now aging, and their children are independent and have other bases of operations, so even if their parents become elderly, they will not be able to return. Inevitably, I hear that there are many cases where they cannot dispose of the property and it is left as it is.
Needless to say, political reforms, such as administrative measures and legislation, are necessary to overcome this situation. There are many issues to be addressed, such as conversion and new ideas for space utilization. There are many issues that need to be addressed. In the industry, Shimizu Corporation is currently working on a project to relocate and preserve the "Former Shibusawa Residence," which has a connection to the company, to a corner of the company's facility under construction in Koto City.
Kume Sekkei, to which I belong, learned several years ago that the "Former Honda Residence" (Zushi City), a house designed by the company's founder Gonkuro Kume, had been left vacant and in a state of decay, so we purchased it and are now restoring it on site. We hope to preserve it as a corporate asset while exploring its effective use in the community and within the company in the future.
We hope that this kind of momentum for preservation and revitalization will gain further momentum. Please forgive me if this is a bit of PR for our company.

Norio MAKI
Vice Presidents Norio MAKI (Professor, Kyoto University)

I am Norio Maki of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, and I have been serving as Vice President since May 30, 2023.
During the time of the COVID 19 period, I had few opportunities to visit Tokyo, but I went to local towns. Projects with local people are essential to being there. There are members of the Architectural Institute of Japan all over Japan who are indispensable to being there. I am a vice president elected under the quota of regular members who live outside the Kanto Section area. The activities of each region are important to the Architectural Institute of Japan, and we will carefully consider what to do about the activities of the chapters that serve as hubs for these activities. We would also like to work on how to make the society more attractive to younger members and to promote knowledge exchanges with the other Architectural Institute in Asian countries.
I look forward to working hard for the next two years under the leadership of new President Takeuchi.

Naoyuki HIROTA
Vice Presidents Norio MAKI (Professor, Kyoto University)

I am Naoyuki Hirota and I assumed the position of vice president in June. I'm looking forward to working with all of you. I believe that the concrete measures proposed by the new President, Toru Takeuchi, such as "the development of society's services that transcend regional and gender boundaries using ICT" and "the dissemination of information throughout the world as the Architectural Institute of Japan (AIJ)," will set a crucial direction for our society in the next half-century, especially in the “new normal” environment after the Corona crisis.
To address various social and architectural issues, we aim to revitalize AIJ's activities and contribute to the growth of the architectural community and social education on architecture. We will achieve this by utilizing ICT to disseminate information more widely and openly, making it easily understandable for everyone.
Additionally, we will promote the establishment of a fair architectural ordering system and a support system provided by experts. The complexity of existing architectural ordering systems has led to various problems in the building administration of local governments. To overcome these issues, we believe it is essential to involve academics and local experts on a pro bono basis. By creating a physical support system for local governments, AIJ hopes to nurture a local architectural culture that will contribute to the development of prosperous communities.

Vice Presidents Goichi KAMOCHI (Managing Executive Officer Design Division, Obayashi Corporation)

My name is Goichi Kamochi, and I have been elected to the position of Vice President from outside of the research and educational organizations. The Architectural Institute of Japan is one of the largest academic societies in Japan in terms of the number of members outside of the medical field, and within its membership are people from various fields including academia, government, and industry. As a member of a general construction company, I will devote the next two years to the society from the perspective of practicing architects and engineers. While promoting the three themes raised by the new President Takeuchi, I would like to grasp the actual needs through the Task Force as the person in charge of social needs and public awareness, and provide useful information and services from the AIJ for practitioners. On May 8, COVID-19 were classified as a category 5 disease under the Infectious Disease Control Law, and the situation in the city is now clearly different from that of the Coronas disaster. Although, we will have to wait for the deep analysis of various fields to see how this infectious disease has changed and affected society, we have clearly seen a different way of working and communication method, even in our architectural world as well, than before the COVID-19 outbreak. In that sense, the changes are quite significant in terms of the Digital Transformations, while there are also significant challenges ahead. I am not very familiar with this field, or rather, I am not very good at it, so I’m willing to work on it while studying together.

Back number

When you click the link, past public pages will be displayed.

July 27, 2023