Urban Scenography

Related Staff : Eric H Schuldenfrei

Student: Kwok Hoi Lam Helen
Supervisor: Dr. Eric H. Schuldenfrei

This thesis explores how to preserve the intangible culture heritage by reinterpreting Kabuki in Japan now based on the mutual interpretations of cultures, roles and programs. Under globalization and for various political reasons, Tokyo has faced cultural invasions from its neighbor South Korea and “big brother” America. The traditional Kabuki, the singing and dancing performance that originated in Edo period (1600-1868), has been vanishing in the contemporary society of Tokyo. The Kabuki has been listed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage since 2005. In 2010 a traditional kabuki theatre in Ginza, Kabukiza, has been torn down and replaced by a 49-storey office building. Not to mention there is an urgent call for architecture to intervene spatially to revive this lost traditions, it is also important that architecture has to retrieve its role as a criticism or reflections to prompt people to rethink about their culture, traditions and city.

The thesis attempts to challenge the notion of surrealism in architecture and its modern application in the cultural and society context in Japan. Architecture nowadays has lost its criticality. It is a global phenomenon that architecture has been rendered similar, rational, mundane and come as expected in terms of programs and forms under the capitalistic society. Architecture has gradually lost its power to criticize the society. When built projects are optimized to last and function for decades, architecture is often underestimated as a super slow media as a social critic to an ever-changing city like Tokyo.

Dressed in black and white formal codes, office worker commuting in metros in Tokyo look like robots being delivered in cargo containers. Under the education of Japanese cultural and societal values, the Japanese are taught in the primary rule of manner not to disturb others in public. Japanese behavior in public are mannered, rational, highly restrictive and suppressive. When the city and people inside it are so rational, I see this as an opportunity for architecture to create surprising and surreal scenarios in the public realm to provoke critical thinking.

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