Renovation Machizukuri in Contemporary Japan: The Cases of Suwa, Kokura and Onomichi

Ji, Nancy Yao

Ngā Pūtahitanga / Crossings: A Joint Conference of SAHANZ and the Australasian UHPH Group

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The increasing number of vacant properties is a pressing challenge in Japan today. Depopulated towns and neighbourhoods are experiencing socio-economic decline. In response, citizen groups have carried out diverse activities known as “machizukuri” to improve the quality of life in their communities and living environments. Since the 2000s, machizukuri practices that involve the renovation of vacant building stock came to be known as “renovation machizukuri” (renovation town-making) which emphasizes social engagement through participatory design and do-it-yourself (DIY) building methods. This paper presents examples of renovation machizukuri that have emerged in recent years and are still ongoing in three Japanese cities – Suwa, Kokura and Onomichi. These three case studies shed light on the evolving role of architects and professionals who work together with citizens and volunteers in the sharing of knowledge and resources drawn together through strong social networks both online and offline. They are part of a larger movement in the rise of renovation culture, signifying a new era in contemporary Japanese architecture and town planning.