Learning from the Japanese City: Looking East in Urban Design

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Routledge, May 23, 2012 - Architecture - 192 pages

Japanese cities are amongst the most intriguing and confounding anywhere. Their structures, patterns of building and broader visual characteristics defy conventional urban design theories, and the book explores why this is so. Like its cities, Japan’s written language is recognized as one of the most complicated, and the book is unique in revealing how the two are closely related. Set perceptively against a sweep of ideas drawn from history, geography, science, cultural and design theory, Learning from the Japanese City is a highly original exploration of contemporary urbanism that crosses disciplines, scales, time and space.

This is a thoroughly revised and much extended version of a book that drew extensive praise in its first edition. Most parts have stood the test of time and remain. A few are replaced or removed; about a hundred figures appear for the first time. Most important is an entirely new (sixth) section. This brings together many of the urban characteristics, otherwise encountered in fragments through the book, in one walkable district of what is arguably Japan’s most convenient metropolis, Nagoya.

The interplay between culture, built form and cities remains at the heart of this highly readable book, while a change in subtitle to Looking East in Urban Design reflects increased emphasis on real places and design implications.


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Chapter 1 Western Interest in the Japanese City
From Written to City Texts
Street and Related Scenes
Chapter 4 Strands of Culture
Chapter 5 Learning from the Japanese City
Glorious Gokiso
Japanese Historical Eras
Glossary of Japanese Terms

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About the author (2012)

Barrie Shelton is Associate Professor – Urban Design, University of Melbourne and Honorary Associate Professor, University of Sydney.

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