What about the provinces?

This issue looks at places beyond the metropolis: small and medium-size towns, little cities, remote villages. Here, in places that we cannot simply reduce to non-urban, our crises—political, social, economic, environmental—are magnified. It is also where experimentation is supposed to be more free. We head out there for new kinds of architecture and community, and a better life (or at least its illusion).

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Article 3 of 4

Islands and Villages

A documentary series on the posturban phenomenon in rural Japan

What happens to a discipline so bound up with the city when the city is exhausted as a field of possibility? Jolted by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and frustrated by a lack of opportunities to shape urban development, architects in Japan have begun to look beyond the metropolis to reinvent their practice. The trajectories, scale, and content of their engagement vary. Yet there is a common effort to define a new form of exchange between architects and communities, one that supplants the traditional system of commissioning. We asked Kayoko Ota to trace some of these posturban trajectories, visiting practitioners in the islands and villages where this experimentation is taking place. The result is an immersive travelogue that captures the effort of five practitioners to forge a new relationship between architecture and society.


Toyo Ito assumes the role of voluntary masterplanner



Atelier Bow-Wow renews a fishing village’s social and ecological cycles


The series continues with Kazuyo Sejima, dot architects, and Hajime Ishikawa. Subscribe to our newsletter.


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