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The Other Architect

To find another way of building architecture, we have to be willing to broaden our understanding of what architecture is and what architects can do. From a set of varied approaches drawn from many people, places, and times, the other architect emerges: searching for different operating models, aiming for collaborative strategies, introducing strange concepts, and experimenting with new kinds of tools. Reading and analyzing these traces reminds us that architecture has the potential to do more than resolve a given set of problems: it can establish what requires attention today.

The Other Architect

To find another way of building architecture, we have to be willing to broaden our understanding of what architecture is and what architects can do. From a set of varied approaches drawn from many people, places, and times, the other architect emerges: searching for different operating models, aiming for collaborative strategies, introducing strange concepts, and experimenting with new kinds of tools. Reading and analyzing these traces reminds us that architecture has the potential to do more than resolve a given set of problems: it can establish what requires attention today.

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First report from Tokyo

Terunobu Fujimori and Takeyoshi Hori come back from a long walk

Facsimile translation of the Architectural Detective Agency’s first survey report from 1974, made for The Other Architect exhibition in 2015

The Architectural Detective Agency was founded in 1974 by architect-historians Terunobu Fujimori and Takeyoshi Hori while they were graduate students in Tokyo, Japan. They undertook field research to document structures that were disappearing or that had been excluded from official Japanese architectural history. The detectives walked with cameras and sketchbooks, taking stock of unnoticed or abandoned early-modern buildings in the city.

When buildings were threatened with demolition, the detectives mobilized to produce complete sets of photographic and drawn documentation, often interviewing surviving architects and collecting as much reference and archival material as possible. Working with students of the Muramatsu Lab at Tokyo University, the detectives inadvertently produced the first and most complete inventory of modern buildings constructed in Japan since the Meiji period: The Complete Inventory of Japanese Modern Buildings, published in 1983.

In 1986, Fujimori and artist Genpei Akasegawa formed the ROJO Society (the roadway observation and study society). This expanded the detectives’ activities from buildings to include all aspects of the street, from signage to sewers.

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