All posts by Jomar Alfredo Santiago


Periodical: Japan Architecture+ Urbanism

Thesis: With the limited land space in Japan and cities, reaching their capacities, Japanese architecture should focus on innovating designs that can create an environment that would allow the people to benefit from its agricultural and urban function.

After being isolated from the world during the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1868, Japan’s isolation ended. Since then, Japanese architecture and culture was paused in time. The opening of the country forced Japan into a westernization movement. This movement made architecture one of the focuses on Japan. At this point in time, Japan’s sole purpose was to focus on creating newer cities where people could manifest a western lifestyle. Even though the architecture was made to increase the aesthetic of Japan, the new cities were built on land where population was greater in numbers than any other location in the country. Since the end of the of the westernization movement in the early 1900’s, Japanese cities have grown exponentially. Many cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka have developed such that much of the land has been converted into urbanized areas that rely on innovative architecture. With over 127 million people living in the country, people have exhausted the land usage and have no choice but to rely on high-rise buildings. Many modern Japanese architects and landscape architects focus their careers on trying to create sustainable cities, but are still limited by the maximum space they can work with. As limited land space in Japan, reaching their capacities, Japanese architecture should focus on innovating designs that can create an environment that would allow the people to benefit from its agricultural and urban function.

Land in Japan is based on mountainous and volcanic structure, which leaves no alternative for people to build in an environment where easy access is possible. Some of the land has been developed to increase the accommodation of agriculture that allows people to harvest food and crops to provide to the cities. Japan’s agriculture fields extend farther due to the fertile possibility of the land. As a result, the focus on agriculture is prioritize compared to the significance of construction. About 20% of the land is suitable for agriculture and 68% belongs to forestry (Barnes). Many of the mountainsides and the plains are used for farming and terraces for cultivating farmland. The division between agriculture and urban is enforced by government officials to prevent contamination and pollution of the crop fields by cities. This restriction limits what is built and forces the majority of the population in one area.

While the land is developed as farmland, and forestry is protected, the increase of population continues to eradicate many areas around the land. Some lands are razed to accommodate the population and increase the housing for the people. The population in land accounts for 12% in all of Japan. Many cities have become overpopulated, leading to people to live in high-rise complexes. Minimal spacious rooms are designed to accommodate single families that reside in many urban cities. Families in Japan containing three or four members dwell in rooms where the size is compared to those of a single living space in the United States. With many people living in urban areas, the cities tend to depend on the transportation of food and the export of material. As a result, the environment is inflicted with issues caused by the urban living. The infliction towards the surrounding affects how much of the environment can be changed.

As innovative development in cities cease, buildings are stacked or miniaturized to accommodate as much people as possible. High-rise structures in many cities tend to house major commercial spaces, restricting where people can live. Commercial spaces tend to be prioritized over residential. This diminishes the possible locations of residences. High-rise buildings should be designed to allow people to interact and use their surrounding environment. Architecture should involve the agriculture usage as a means of vitalizing the lifestyle of the people. Buildings should adequately place above ground to allow for natural ventilation and sun to reach the crops being grown below. Ideally, the building should be lifted off the ground and placed on columns where the structural support is being helped by the other building. This creates a continuous connection between buildings. In 1966, renowned Japanese architect Kenzo Tange proposed a concept that would allow the Japanese people to live in high-rise buildings by extending the buildings from a core system that would allow future development of the site (figure A).


Figure A
Figure A

This project was developed to renew the Tsukiji District in Japan that would optimize the usage of houses. By using the concept of the Tsukiji Project, architecture and agriculture can be combined into one system. By using the core system, one can free the landscape to allow the accommodation of crop fields and agricultural usage. As the architecture and structure are raised from the ground, the building does not conflict with surrounding nature, thus allowing the environment to flourish and produce clean, organic and natural atmosphere. The structure allows the people to live in areas where the ground is uneven and construction is not allowed. As a result, the land tends to be cleaner and healthier for people to live in. The use of roads is minimized and the surrounding begins to intertwine as a whole community.

Another Japanese architecture proposed a parallel project that allows individual dwellings to hang from a single megastructure. Kiyonori Kikutake designed the Marine City that utilizes a core system (figure B). While the Marine City resembles the Tsukiji Project, Kikukate’s proposal dedicates two zones of the main core to two housing system. Each system is composed of eight compacted above ground, relieving the landscape of major construction. The use of individual house allows the dwellers to live in their own property while still sharing the main structure. The individualization of the each unit creates a personal space for each family in which allows the member to occupy their own spaces.


Figure B
Figure B

A modern concept can be seen in Singapore. The Interlace designed by Ore Scheeren and OMA allows the connection between dwellers and the landscape (Figure c).This complex takes advantage of every single square footage by stacking the individual units on top of each other, creating a sense of spatial interaction (Arch Daily). The dwelling units double the capability of residence without interfering with the surrounding environment. Due to the small confliction between the building and the surroundings, the complex actualizes the potential increase of the land by amplifying the greenery on the surfaces of the units (Figure D). By following the same example illustrated by Scheeren, cities should be able to accommodate large families with their space needs in their homes. As the architectural dwelling increases, cities are able to expand spaces, yet, relieving the stress in nature. By increasing the land to better the people, architecture inflicts less damage to the surrounding after construction. The landscape creates special areas where people can utilize the land to raise crops.

Figure C
Figure C
Figure D
Figure D

Due to many oppositions in construction and budget, projects like this are likely to be built because of the major impact it has towards the city before construction. Before a city can manifest in redevelopment, cities locations must be razed to accommodate the new development. At times, this causes the city to backlash in the development. The movement of current dwellers in an old residence affects how the city function and many residences are not able to afford the changes in lifestyle. In some cases, the project itself becomes unsatisfactory within the city limits. Some cities become unaware that housing becomes part of local taxation and thus conflicts with living expenses, thus the area becomes gentrified. This diminish the possibility of how many dwellings can actually be built. The structural possibility is at a disadvantage as the size of the core system would be dramatically impossible. The size of the core system would be so large that it would take more than the given land. On the other hand, the raising of crops benefits the dwellers; it lowers the profits of some other consumers. In some areas the growth of crops and food are a source of finance, as such, the cities depend on the commercial use. With the relocation of agriculture fields into personal use, agriculture field can become unusable and neglected.

By using architectural design, it is possible to merge agricultural and urban land. Many architects like Kenzo Tange, Ore Scheeren have innovated the way people and nature interact with one another. Their work manifests the ideals of this unison. While the prevention of pollution is controllable, many Japanese cities have become urbanized to a point that have created many of the major environmental issues seen in Japan. Incorporating hybrid buildings where people are able to grow their own crops would increase the sustainability of the cities in Japan. This increases the availability of land, people uses in their daily life. By relying in cities where sustainability is part of a mechanical system, cities become unsuitable by nature. Thus, by allowing nature to be part of the daily life of the people and its surrounding, cities flourish in better habitats, cleaner cities, and suitable lifestyles. The increase of ruralization in cities helps the rate of ecological and expansion of land for people. This creates better self-sustain cities that would flourish for centuries.


Works Cited

Barnes, Gina L. Origins of the Japanese Islands: The New “Big Picture”. Durham, England, n.d.

Japan, Web. Environmental Issues, Japan. n.d. 25 10 2015.

Johnston, Bruce F. Agricultural Development and Economic Transformation: A Comparative Study of the Japanese Experience. n.d.

Sawada, Shujiro. Agriculture and Economic Growth: Japan’s Experience. Princeton University Press, 1969.

Schalk, Meike. The Architecture of Metabolism. MDPI, Basel, 2014.

Yoshiyasu, Ida, et al. Geography Education in Japan. Springer, 2015.

“The Interlace / OMA” 06 May 2015. ArchDaily. Accessed 13 Dec 2015. <>

DD Review for Steph Rakiec

A connectivity towards the community is what is illustrated in Stephanie’s proposal. The project explicitly communicates the sense of stacking and interaction with levels. It marks a continuous embrace of height and spaces where the programs are divided in an orderly manner. The location of a central passage connects her building as a whole, which at the same time priorities, the movement for the firefighters. However, the jurors did not view the project as such. Given Stephanie’s substantial presentation of her proposal, some of the jurors were not followed and were lost in thought. In fact, Peter Aeschbacher was confused with building features that Stephanie did not explain well. This led to the contradiction between the program and her explanation. In contrast, Jurors were following Stephanie’s presentation since the beginning to the end, which allowed the jurors to understand what she meant. While her posted illustration were welcoming, her models were far from finished. Ideally, one uses the model to support one’s argument; however, some of the drawings were informative and understandable compared to the model. The model seemed to portray a different scheme than what was given. Looking at the elevation, one can automatically see the play of level and changes in sizes. The elevation clearly flattened the conceptual scheme seen on the model and would have been better to have an axonometric elevation that displays the stacking and connection to the program. Apart from the given diagrams, the legibility of the plans and elevation could have been successful by adding 3-dimensional elements.

Identifying the conceptual design in Steph’s project is straightforward by looking at her elevation and the conceptual model. The idea to bring the community to the site and collaborate with the museum and the firehouse is a solution that satisfies the future development of Greenpoint. The manifestation of a future development for Brooklyn’s school and the Bushwick Inlet is envisioned in her project. The incorporation of the Fire station to the modern museum allows the site to unite as one allowing the public to experience a site dedicated to the community. Division between private and public is openly seen by looking at her model and floor plans, which Steph has done perfectly. Looking at the building, a firm division starts to create a transition from where the firefighters reside versus the community usage without displacing the importance of both functions. A unique scheme that conveys a story from the exterior to the interior, which both community members and dwellers can experience. The interesting part of the building, conceptually, is that the recreation room tops the dwelling section creating a simultaneously division yet unison form that both sections of the users can utilize. In most cases, buildings focus on incorporating the community with the users, but forget to relate to the community that would eventually surround the area. The separation of levels by usage and convention allows a standard precedential aspect of the building to resemble a common characteristic yet breaking of the shell that mobilize the form to create her building. Her schematic design highlights and builds up her conceptual scheme that allowed her to proceed with a better understanding of her building.

Stephanie’s building design developed in a good manner and captivating way from her conceptual idea. Her materiality emphasized her initial idea to unite two domains into one. The use of wood panels within the concrete structure seems to alleviate the heavy aesthetic of concrete of the building. The wood articulates a calmer look for each section of the building while the concrete frames each part of the building. The concrete frame allows the building to signify its position from its surrounding and the site. Additionally from the wood panels, glass helps the building by illuminating the opening in the interior space. This allows a sense of non-restricting usage from the usage. While the usage of panels and glass helps eradicate the strong presence of the concrete frame. It would help if the wood materiality can be experience in the interior space, as this is what allows the firehouse to create the connection to the community. Aside from concrete and wood, green elements are clearly seen in the roof. While the green roof helps manifest a sustainable design. It fails if the green is placed after the conceptual and is not integrated with the site or functions as part of it. A community roof garden should be visible from the building, accessible from the interior, and exterior. Jurors sought that by utilizing the site instead of the building would benefit the community in a much better way. In truth, by separating the roof garden from the building this abstain the idea of uniting the community with the firehouse. By utilizing a passage from the site to the roof, it would reduce the foot traffic of going inside to the building. Stephanie’ seemed to incorporate solar panels that are located next to the community garden. Instead of placing the panels next to the community, the panel could be placed on the recreation roof. By moving the panels, the garden would be free of any obstacle that would cause a damage.

Overall, Steph’ held an excellent presentation that allowed the jurors to be part of the communication presentation. Even though there were some misunderstanding, she directed the jurors on what point she must exceed for the final. Her project was one of the few that really strictly incorporated many of the community development that would eventually be located in the near future. By thinking far ahead of the usages that are, going to be, part of the surrounding is a task, in some cases, no easily achievable. Her visual presentation was vivid and elaborated the points of her project. As of this point, her project has yet to fully grown into the project she expects it to be. Her ideas and approached were farther than realized; however, growing one design is part of what makes us architecture students. We learn from our mistakes and fix them as time progress. For the final, Stephanie’s presentation and project would have evolved and grown that jurors would immediately understand.

Multiple Logics

Simon Guy and Graham Farmer are both English professors of architecture with a specialization in environmental studies into the interaction of the environment and architecture. Across the work they reference many authors, often only in a single instance. The professions of the referenced individuals include; architects, professors, critics, theorists, sociologists, and urban planners. All of these authors are united by their study of and viewpoints on green architecture.  There are both supporters and dismissers of this movement and they provide a wide range of opinions.

The article was centered around the discussion of the past methods of construction and what needs to change in new construction to make buildings more green. This also includes dismissing many of the reasons some architects may use as an excuse to not build green.  This piece was probably motivated by the authors noticing of how few professionals, both architects and builders, are including green elements into buildings. This is striving to both inform and motivate said professionals into changing their ways to benefit both the environment as well as the users of these spaces.

Much of the evidence used in this essay was based off of referencing  past works, both successful and unsuccessful. It began by entailing many of the failings of a ‘standard’ building of the early 20th century that did not incorporate green technology. From there the author described two types of green architecture; technologically green and green by architectural design. The article was summed up by implying the best possible system is the one that combines both of these methods. This argument seems both logical and solid, and is supported by many strong references and examples.

The main competing argument to green building is that our current state of construction is fine as is. This is covered in the beginning of the article as the authors describe and then pick apart this type of building. From here they break down the problems and describe a solution for each issue that arises.

One assumption that the author makes is that everyone has a desire for green architecture. Some people may not value this to any degree or believe there is a reason to show concern for the environment or biophilic design. This assumption is never formally addressed, but is backed up enough by arguments in the article that is may even convert people with this viewpoint through the process of reading.

This article is important because it is capitalizing on the wave of green architecture and furthering it by expelling the many benefits and approaches to the ‘green’ problem that have arisen. This article is particularly import to us as young designers because if we start from the beginning of our designs with environmental techniques it will become second nature to use them over time.





Presentation Powerpoint 

DD Project Statement

Greenpoint a sector of Brooklyn, New York is currently experiencing a commercial and residential development where factories used to serve in the industrial era. Firehouse station 212 will resides in the Bushwick park area where it would be accessible to oversee the upper-coming neighborhood. Station 212 consist of a perspectival visual linkage between Manhattan and Greenpoint’s Bushwick Park. The building utilizes a horizontal thin concrete cladding that accentuate and guides the perception of the user. The concrete cladding emphasize a continuous envelope, yet, allowing the building to experience a shard-like movement. Glass illustrates areas where voids are utilized to maximize the visualization towards New York City. The shape of the building allows the movement of the user to experience different fragmentation in the interior and exterior. In the interior, space is connected by an atrium surrounded by glass wall that blocks, yet, allows the connection to the programs. The building’s shape correlates towards a strong view to NYC yet receiving a warm welcome from Greenpoint neighborhood.

Photograph by: Stinging Eyes


Schematic Review: Chris Scalzo

A tall towering apparatus that seems to conquer the site as well as the surrounding which is seen clearly in Christopher’s architecture intent for the firehouse project. The jurors were fascinated by the way he the project incorporated much more than the require program which was not seen in other projects. Christopher’s statement was a bit indecisive as the jurors were confused as to whether the project was ideally towards the firefighter or the reason the building breaks the limited height of the site. The informative and history given by Chris increased the conceptual knowledge in a manner that gave the jurors some guidelines for the reason he was designing the proposed project. Informative as it may have been, confusion rose up when the information created uncertainty of the building to the site. As a result, this caused the jurors to wonder off on how the program incorporates the community aside from the given space dedicated inside the building. In contrast, the jurors were focus on Chris’ model rather than his posted illustration. The model showed greater interpretation of the work that he was trying to convey. Ideally, one uses the model to support one argument; however, the drawings did not convey the necessary information completely fully understand the project. The elevation clearly flattened the conceptual scheme seen in the model and would have been better to have an axonometric elevation that displays the stacking and connection to the program. Reading the plans was a bit hard due to the size displayed in the board. The legibility of the plans could have better illustrated by increasing the scale and maximizing the context within the plan. The perspective images could successfully been recognized if the images were made bigger and noticeable compared to the site plan. This distracts the jurors from realizing what the conceptual scheme is.

Identifying the conceptual design in Chris’ project is straightforward by looking at his model and elevation. The idea to raise the program above the firehouse apparatus bay is clearly a solution that satisfies the needs of Brooklyn, New York. Vertical structure allows monument spaces to distinguish a firehouse from a residential program, which Chris did perfectly. Looking at the building, a shift of space starts to create a movement that forms a transition to a single story to multi-story floors without displacing the importance of the building’s function. An intriguing scheme that makes used of every single space and introduces a cultural reflection of the city as a high-rise building. The interesting part of the building, conceptually, is that it offers to create a scheme that would benefit the community as well as the residence. In most cases, high-rise buildings focus in marketing the retail and condominiums to maximize space and yet forget to relate to the community that would eventually surrounds the area. Chris’ scheme harmonizes all aspect of what a high rise building in New York should possess. The separation of levels by usage and convention allows a standard precedential aspect of the building to resemble its predecessors in a common characteristic yet breaking from the shell that mobilize his form to create his building. Jurors grasped this concept and started to realize that it is a scheme that no other firehouse project had done before. His schematic design highlights and builds up his conceptual scheme that allowed him to proceed to a better understanding of his building.

Taking a closer look at Chris’ schematic design, the building resembles an international style building that focusing in stacking rather than the connection between programs. The glass wall façade eradicates the aesthetic of a new conveyed building that is trying to describe a connection to the site and the residents. Instead of a traditional glass wall, the use of a material that resonates with the surrounding and the building could create a new inspiring façade. This goes the same way with brick or CMU wall that illustrate a flat yet dull siding that does not react to anything. Materials should speak in a high-rise building, as this is the only visible area of the building besides the form and shape. The plans seem to be rectilinear with a linear system that seems to hold the programs, instead of vice versa. Rooms should create the hallways that allow the users to experience the inside of one creation. Instead of symmetrical relation, the rooms should shift either way of the building. As a result, the building façade is configured and becomes appraised by the use of the public and the surrounding. The plans should open up to the lower level while still keeping the difference program apart. One way, is to create an atrium of passage that would allow the residents to experience the firehouse and the community center. It would be great if the terrace surrounded the entire building, creating an isolated apparatus from the urban area of Brooklyn, New York. This way the residents can access to the terrace in all floors that can function as multipurpose farming house for the firefighter and the people in it.

Overall, Chris held an engaging presentation that kept the jurors from wondering off. The project seemed to come to life when he was explaining rather than just allowing the jurors to speak for him, which is surely the way to lose the audience. At times, one should refrain from over explaining the history and background of the site as jurors have a tendency to track off from the project without knowing the actual proposal. Chris refrained from elaborating why the project placement is par with the shoreline and not a city locale which common high resident complex tends to be placed. Though initially, the information became irrelevant his purpose became clear as the presentation went on. His project was one of few that really incorporated many of the site incoming development that would eventually would be located in the near future. By thinking of futuristic usages that are, going to be, part of the surrounding is a task, in some cases, no easily achievable. As of this point, his project has yet to fully awoken to the ideals he was conveying. His ideas and approached were clearly understood verbally; however, as an architecture student one must not rely in verbal presentation alone but demonstrate both visual and verbal balance in one’s crit.