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Japanese Style : Sustaining DesignA Japanese Season in Wales

19 January - 10 March 2013

Japanese Architecture

This January Mission Gallery focuses on Japanwith an exhibition of contemporary Japanese architecture and Japanese crafts.  Japanese Style: Sustaining Design includes work by some ofJapan’s leading architects.

Rooted in sustainable design, the diverse work in this exhibition demonstrates the vital contribution aesthetics and community make in maintaining our fragile environment.   Michael Nixon, curator of Japanese Style comments, “Architects are at the forefront of re-evaluating the way we live our lives.  These Japanese architects use resources efficiently and seek to ensure sustained development, and they also make their designs beautiful.”

Architects have played a crucial role in the reconstruction ofEastern Japanafter the devastating earthquake and tsuanmi of March 2011, and this exhibition includes some of this work.Japanlies on the cusp of the Pacific-Philippine-Eurasian triple plate junction, where the complex interactions of three tectonic plates is unpredictable and loaded with potential activity.  This dramatic backdrop contributes to the psyche of the Japanese architects who are far more aware of the fragility of man’s position on the planet. 

Japanese Style:Sustaining Design shows the work of a number of architects who in different ways focus on sustainable development. 

Kazuya Morita

From Kyoto, Kazuya is an architect who originally trained as a plasterer.  He specializes in how traditional methods of construction can be adapted for contemporary life.   His modernist buildings employ traditional building techniques. 

A private house nearNagoyais a single storey pentagonal building with exquisite internal finishes of pine clad ceilings and flooring set against pure white plaster.  He has also designed emergency shelters that can be built by people using basic local materials.

Tono Mirai

Tono Mirai uses natural materials such as clay, earth wood and straw.  This exhibition will feature his early work in his ‘Nest’ series alongside his more recent work where he is exploring the use of earth walls.

Mirai has a particular interest in creating environments for children and has recently won awards from the Japanese Children’s Association and the Traditional House Building Society. The exhibition will show images of his award winning work and also photographs from a recent visit to theSendairegion (Tono Mirai’s home town). The photographs look at the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami, but also Tono Mirai uses this experience to inspire his designs for houses that can be part of the regeneration of theSendairegion. His solution is to use earth to build with because of its easy availability and sustainability and also its ability to be flexible and cope with trauma.    

Studio Archi Farm

Studio Archi Farm design buildings using solar power for heating and lighting. The team combines this innovative architectural practice with farming. Their farm grows organic crops, using traditional methods and tools, emphasising the connection between shelter and the production of food. This exhibition will show photographs and concept drawings of their architectural work and also photographs of their farming life, and the traditional methods and implements that they use. This work has inspired other farmers in the area to re-examine their own farming practice, and to return to methods of working that are more in harmony with nature.

Their pure, clean, elegant buildings are underpinned by a synergy between the built environment and nature.   This makes their architecture all the more appealing and successful.

 International Architectural Residency

The fourth component to the Japanese architectural story is an International Architectural Residency. 

Entitled Nurturing the Spirit, this residency brought together the Osamu Ishiyama Laboratory from Waseda University in Tokyo; Mark Smout and Laura Allen from Bartlett School of Architecture,UCL, London and Mathew Jones and Rhian Thomas for the Design Unit of the Welsh School of Architecture.  This trio of universities exchanged ideas electronically and came together at Ruthin Craft Centre to create an installation. The results of this creativity can be seen in the exhibition. The exhibition also includes the film of the residency made by the young Welsh film maker Jessica Balla.


The exhibition is a touring exhibition from Ruthin Craft Centre. The full exhibition of which this is an edited version can be seen on

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