ALMAZAN LAB アルマザン研究室


We apply practice-based methods to investigate the social role of architectural design.

In Jorge Almazán Laboratory we analyze actual problems happening in specific social environments with the aim of not only understanding or describing problematic social conditions, but more importantly with the goal of improving or changing them. Our research method applies action research theory to architectural design: We design and build real architectural projects and urban interventions in real communities.

One example is our renovation project of an old sake storehouse in Yamanashi Prefecture. Initiated with fieldwork visits, interviews, and workshops with local inhabitants, during the initial analysis we identified the need for a new community space, and the opportunity offered by an abandoned storehouse in a central site. After numerous meetings with a local community group, we designed and built a multipurpose space that now accommodates parties, theater and music performances, meetings, exhibitions, etc. Another example is our project for improving the use of the Red Brick Plaza in Yokohama waterfront area. Often empty and mainly used as a transit space, we proposed to set up movable chairs and tables and to conduct an experiment to study the possibilities of changing the plaza into a staying place. We conducted a participatory workshop with Yokohama inhabitants to recycle school chairs and tables into colorful urban furniture to be installed in the plaza. This experiment allowed us to observe how the plaza temporarily became a lively urban scene where people stayed and met.

These are some examples of actual projects developed in the laboratory. They are not only social actions, but also a source of case studies. Each project has a research output as a thesis, where both positive and negative effects of the action are analyzed and offered to the wider academic and professional audience, so that our experiences can be shared, improved and developed by others, and to ultimately build a body of practice-based design knowledge. We have a strong commitment to design practice and actually more than 80% of our graduates work as designers in architecture offices. But we equally emphasize the production and publication of new knowledge through articles, peer-review journals, books, domestic and international conferences. The laboratory works in a continuous spiral that alternates design actions and research activities heading to a more socially committed architecture.







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