Make Do With Now introduces the thinking and projects of a new generation of architects and urban practitioners working in Japan today. Born between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s, the architects featured in the exhibition largely entered professional practice following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster. This is a generation that must grapple with a range of urgent problems currently facing the country, including a declining, graying population and an emptying countryside; the proliferation of vacant houses across the nation; profit-driven urban development, mostly without the involvement of architects; a stagnant economy; and, of course, the global climate crisis.
Instead of being humbled into resignation, however, many architects of this cohort are choosing to confront these challenges head-on. Turning their marginalized position into a strength, they are developing a range of critical, ecological, and social practices that creatively “make do” – with limited resources, with found materials, or with existing spaces. In contrast to the clean lines and minimalist spaces most recently associated with contemporary Japanese architecture, these projects pursue a decidedly different aesthetic politics that isn’t afraid to leave things rough around the edges. Whether working from the periphery, exploiting gaps in the system, or occupying roles in the process that have previously been overlooked, these practitioners are articulating a new architectural agency that radically departs from the traditional image of the architect-author.
These approaches coming out of Japan today are anything but a marginal phenomenon, but rather hold crucial relevance for a world that is coming to terms with a future beyond a paradigm of constant growth. Approaches such as building transformation, material reuse, participatory and social design – all ideas that have particularly flourished in the Japanese context – are gradually becoming the norm in Swiss and European architecture as well. In this sense, these Japanese positions form an important contribution to a global discussion. They demonstrate that to ‘make do’ by no means signalizes a lack; rather, they make us realize the creative flourishing that follows when we recognize that what we have is already more than enough.
Through texts, images, and graphics the exhibition provides an atmospheric introduction to the social, economic, and built environment that provide the context for young architects working in Japan today. Furthermore, the exhibition presents the work and thinking of young architecture practices working in Japan and Denmark today, each embodying a distinct approach to the question of the architect’s role in society. Here, the focus is on process and approach: what are young architects in Japan thinking as they design? How do they work, and where? And what alternative visions of what architecture can be – and do – might come into view as we observe their work? The profiles unite photographs, films, and other materials from the offices to provide holistic portraits of their process. In a series of video portraits developed with Studio GROSS (Anne Gross and Sebastian Gross) for this exhibition, the Japanese architects explain their thinking in their own words.
The exhibition will run until November 20th.
The event program accompanying the exhibition will be announced in September.
Entry fee: 30 kr / Free for the members of CAFx Community
Make Do With Now was originally exhibited in S AM from 12 November 2022 – 12 March 2023. Part of the exhibition is now traveling to Copenhagen adapted to CAFx' exhibition space at Halmtorvet 27, drawing parallels to a danish context as well as local practices – both in the exhibition and in the event-program.
Team behind Make Do With Now:
Curator: Yuma Shinohara, Films: Studio GROSS, Photography: Go Itami, Scenography: Yusuke Seki Exhibition Graphic Design: 75W / Tilmann S. Wendelstein.
The exhibition at CAFx Halmtorvet 27 is adapted by CAFx.
Director S AM
Andreas Ruby (*1966) is an architectural publicist, curator, book publisher and, since May 2016, director of the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum. He studied art history at the University of Cologne. He and Ilka Ruby founded the architectural publishing company Ruby Press in 2008, with which he has realised over twenty book projects as an editor and publisher, some of which have won awards. In parallel, he has taught architectural theory at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, at Graz University of Technology, and at ENSAPM in Paris.
Yuma Shinohara (*1991) works as a curator and editor in the fields of architecture and urbanism. After working at Storefront for Art and Architecture, Ruby Press, the Academy of Arts Berlin, and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, he is currently a curator at the S AM Swiss Architecture Museum. At the S AM, Shinohara co-curated the exhibitions ‘Swim City’ (2019) and ‘Beton’ (2021) and over-saw the adaptation of ‘Access of All’ (2021) in collaboration with the Architecture Museum of TU Munich and the Institute of Architecture of the University of Applied Arts Northwest Switzerland. As a translator, he has translated Bruno Taut into English,
among others, and worked for magazines such as ARCH+ and A+U. He graduated with a degree in comparative literature and society from Columbia University in New York.
75W (Theory of a Small World) is the interdisciplinary design studio of Tilmann Steffen Wendelstein, a designer and art director whose life and work oscillate between Berlin and Tokyo. With project-based teams the studio serves a wide range of clients from Europe and Asia. Clients range from cultural institutions and publishing houses to a variety of brands from the worlds of food, furniture, fashion and beyond. Wendel-stein is also a co-founder of Journal du Thé, a magazine on contemporary tea culture.
Anne and Sebastian Gross are architects and filmmakers and founders of ‘Studio GROSS’ – an architectural practice and experimental project space in Tokyo. Besides collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Architecture and the German Embassy in Tokyo, their film work was mentioned and screened at the Swiss Transfer Architecture Video Awards. Their architectural practice touches upon refurbishments in response to Tokyo's growing housing vacancy. They incorporate research at the Tokyo Institute of Technology into their projects, focusing strongly on the rehabilitation of the local community. Both graduated from a travelling European Architecture program investigating eight cities under various planning, design, and artistic methods.
Go Itami (*1976) is a photographer and artist based in Japan. His monographic publications include photocopy (Rondade, 2018), this year’s model (Rondade, 2014) and study (Rondade, 2013). His work has been shown in solo and group exhibition in Japan and abroad, including CIBONE (Tokyo), VACANT (Tokyo), SIGMA Satellite Gallery (Kyoto), Motto (Berlin), Centre for Con- temporary Photography (Melbourne), and the Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna). Itami’s photographs have received awards from organizations such as the Brno International Biennale of Graphic Design, the New York Art Director’s Club, and the Society of Photography, Tokyo.