Difference and Repetition Reactivating Tokyo architectural elements in Nezu

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contributionpeer-review


Nagaya houses were an important part of urban life in eighteen and nineteenth century Tokyo, where they housed artisans and were at the centre of the city’s urban culture. While the practice of constructing nagaya houses has long been lost, and traditional architectural elements are rarely quoted physically in Tokyo’s contemporary architecture, a sense of traditional nagaya architecture is still recognisable in the city’s Nezu district. Given this, how are the contemporary versions of nagaya houses generating quotations of traditional architecture within the context of a dynamic and rapidly changing urban landscape? This paper interrogates how contemporary low city Tokyo houses repeat and differentiate traditional models (nagaya) by comparing contemporary dwellings with historical data. It uses observation, drawing, photograph taking and mapping of the contemporary Tokyo houses in Nezu and comparative analysis with Edo, Meiji, Taisho and Showa period nagaya houses to discuss the level and character of change. The analysis focuses on urban and architectural scales and concludes that maintaining the relationship between the public space of the street and the private space of the house is generating possibility for dynamic quotation. Although nagaya houses have been changing significantly over time, the relationships between urban and architectural elements have remained.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand: Quotation: What does history have in store for architecture today?
EditorsGevork Hartoonian, John Ting
Place of PublicationCanberra
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9780646981659
Publication statusPublished - 2017
EventQuotation: The 34th Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand - University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 5 Jul 20178 Jul 2017




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