Emeritus Professor Julian Cooke, University of Cape Town

This course will introduce traditional Japanese concepts of space and beauty, founded in religious beliefs, and compare them with aesthetic ideals of the Western tradition. It will examine the social and geographic roots of the Japanese way of building. Two distinctive forms of traditional architecture and place-making will be explored. The centralised, axial systems in early Buddhist temples and shrines in Nara and Kyoto will be discussed. Their origins will be explored in relation to pre-Buddhist planning and the powerful sixth century influence from China. The more typically Japanese spatial tradition, related to nature and its cycles, will be analysed with reference to the Japanese house, Zen temples and temple compounds and a number of large temple and shrine precincts. Finally, the work of four contemporary architects –Kenzo Tange, Fumihiko Maki, Tadao Ando and Kengo Kuma – will be looked at in relation to the conventions and variations developed in architecture over 1 400 years.



1. Spatial concepts in Japanese architecture

2. Centralised placemaking in early Buddhist temples and cities

3. Organic order: the house, the temple and the temple precinct

4. Traditional elements in contemporary architecture: Kenzo Tange and Fumihiko Maki

5. Traditional elements in contemporary architecture: Tadao Ando and Kengo Kuma


Recommended reading

Bognar, B. 2011. Architectural Guide: Japan. Berlin: DOM Publishers.

Harada, J. 1985. The Lesson of Japanese Architecture. New York: Dover Publications.

Paine, R.T. and Soper, A. 1992. The Art and Architecture of Japan. New Haven: Yale University Press.


Date: 22–26 January 
Time: 5.30 pm
COURSE  FEES Full: R510,00  Staff: R255,00  Reduced: R130,00