The Third Architectural Heritage Seminar took place in Ueno Park on 2 December. The seminar students, together with students from Professor Shimoda's Architectural Heritage Laboratory, examined major sites representing valuable examples of contemporary architectural heritage in Japan. In particular, they visited the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo National Museum complex, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, as well as the International Library of Children's Literature and the Sogakudo Concert Hall of the Tokyo School of Music.
The Ueno Park area, compared to the Marunouchi district, developed as the central cultural and artistic centre of the country from the Meiji period onwards. By the early 20th century, the most important buildings representing Western European influences in Japanese architecture had been built - the first generation of the Imperial Museum building, the Hyokeikan Pavilion, the Imperial Library, and the Sogakudo Concert Hall.
After the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum was constructed in a neoclassical style using elements of Art Deco. The second generation of the Imperial Museum building in the unique "Imperial Crown Style" became the visual expression of the Empire's new ideological doctrine.
The post-war architecture of Ueno Park is marked by a movement of modernism and internationalism, examples of which are the National Museum of Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum (2nd generation) and the buildings of the National Museum complex, characterised by their rationalism, openness of architecture to the public and conceptualism.
Thus, by the end of the 20th century, the architectural landscape of Ueno Park had finally taken shape, and over the following decades, numerous renovations and restorations of existing buildings were carried out, the study of which was the main focus of the seminar.
During the class, students studied the history of the construction and renovation of the Ueno Park buildings, existing restoration, conservation, and adaptation practices, as well as current challenges.
During the observation of the buildings, students practised comparing the design plans of the buildings with those currently in use, identifying changes in the layout and function of the spaces. The analysis showed that the originally designed volumes have undergone significant expansion and redevelopment over time (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art). In some cases, the problem of unavoidable expansion is solved by the addition of new buildings connected to the main building (National Museum of Western Art) or by the construction of independent buildings in the case of a large museum area (Tokyo National Museum). Since museum buildings are actively visited by people with different physical abilities, considerable attention is given to the installation of universal design elements.
A comparative analysis of the design drawings of the façade, and photographs of the times of construction with the existing façade, carried out by students, revealed insignificant changes, which shows a caring attitude towards the appearance of historic buildings.
In the case of loss of practical function, the structure can be transferred for further conservation, which may be one of the effective methods of preservation (Kuromon Gate, Sogakudo Hall).
In contrast, the use of structural design principles in the conservation of a historic building is also one of the practices of its adaptation, which, in the students' opinion, is the most daring and the most radical, but also the most modern-looking (National Children's Library).
In this way, the seminar students concluded that the search for a balance between restoration, conservation and adaptation is important and the most difficult in the issue of preserving the modern architecture of Ueno Park, which has become an essential part of the life of many Tokyo residents.
Reported by Anton Sidorov (D1)