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Dissecting the Danchi

Inside Japan’s Largest Postwar Housing Experiment

Palgrave Macmillan

Authors:

  • Explores the significance of Japan's public housing program

  • Situates Japanese housing issues in the context of Soviet and Asian modernism

  • Predicts the future of public housing in Japan

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Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-16-8460-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
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  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

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Table of contents (3 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xxv
  2. Japanese Prewar Housing: Missing Context

    • Tatiana Knoroz
    Pages 1-39
  3. The Short History of Danchi

    • Tatiana Knoroz
    Pages 41-114
  4. Dissecting the Danchi of Today

    • Tatiana Knoroz
    Pages 115-198
  5. Back Matter

    Pages 199-201

About this book

“‘Dissecting the Danchi’ takes an unusually in-depth and insightful look behind closed doors of Japanese state-subsidised, suburban housing estates. These buildings were once the pinnacle of modernity and innovation, but the aging structures and their ‘unconventional’ inhabitants have long since become stigmatised and labelled as undesirable by the mainstream. The book is endlessly rich and unique in that it combines Knoroz’ imaginative architectural perspective with the kind of deep ethnography that many anthropologists aspire to. A brilliant bonus lies in her unveiling of “Devicology”; a new methodology to study interior environments more effectively and positively impact on regeneration policies. This is a fascinating and much-needed study of contemporary Japanese homes that will engage readers interested in urban housing issues worldwide as well as those drawn to the complexities and ambiguities of Japanese society.”

Inge Daniels, Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford. Author of The Japanese House, Material Culture in the Modern Home.

The book is the first to trace the history of the Japanese public housing program balancing on the rarely explored edge between architecture and ethnography. In the 1960s, when Japan's postwar economy boomed, architects and urban planners inspired by Western modernism and Soviet mass-housing created danchi – clusters of uniform multi-story apartment buildings with standardized interiors, designed to shape new modernized lifestyles for populations turned into refugees by the war. Over time, as Japan's society aged and the economy began to stagnate, these structures have become a popular backdrop for contemporary horror movies and a burden for the government. In this closely researched monograph, Tatiana Knoroz sheds unexpected light on the fate of danchi’s nation-transforming interiors, and proposes a multidisciplinary research method for their ongoing regeneration, which will be of interest to architects, historians and anthropologists.

Tatiana Knoroz is a scholar with a special interest in Japanese housing, anthropology of lived space and built environment.

Keywords

  • Public Housing
  • Architecture
  • Housing Policy
  • Strategies
  • Sociologists

Reviews

“Dissecting the Danchi’ takes an unusually in-depth and insightful look behind closed doors of Japanese state-subsidised, suburban housing estates. These buildings were once the pinnacle of modernity and innovation, but the aging structures and their ‘unconventional’ inhabitants have long since become stigmatised and labelled as undesirable by the mainstream. The book is endlessly rich and unique in that it combines Knoroz’ imaginative architectural perspective with the kind of deep ethnography that many anthropologists aspire to. A brilliant bonus lies in her unveiling of “Devicology”; a new methodology to study interior environments more effectively and positively impact on regeneration policies. This is a fascinating and much-needed study of contemporary Japanese homes that will engage readers interested in urban housing issues worldwide as well as those drawn to the complexities and ambiguities of Japanese society.” (Inge Daniels, Professor of Anthropology, University of Oxford. Author of The Japanese House, Material Culture in the Modern Home.

“Devicology, a word that Tatiana Knoroz coined with reference to Wajiro Kon’s notion of Modernology (kō-gen-gaku), might be translated into Japanese as “inventive science” (kō-an-gaku): the study of ingenuous gimmicks responding to a given situation. In this book, Knoroz traces the mixture of hope, irony, and despair in the history of danchi housing complexes, but then takes us inside those buildings to reveal a new style of living – one that may no longer be hopeful, restricted by systems that prohibit self-renovation and refurbishment, but nor is it hopeless, based as it is on flexibility, convenience, temporariness, and low cost. Such lifestyles are filled with the wisdom and universal ingenuity that keeps reappearing throughout human history.” (Kiyoshi Sey Takeyama, architect, Professor Emeritus of Kyoto University.)

“There is a purist position that architecture is unable to solve social problems. Disproving any such architectural autonomy, Tatiana Knoroz shows in Dissecting the Danchi how Japan’s model minimum dwelling, the 2DK apartment – assembled into danchi, the postwar low-rise “new town” developments built around the nation – has been solution, problem, and now a type with an ambiguous status in Japanese society. At a time with a renewed interest in government support of progressive housing, the book thankfully illuminates a key area in the history and present reality of Japanese housing that is unfortunately far overshadowed (at least in English-language sources) by a focus on pristine and extreme private houses. The danchi is dissected indeed, with valuable insights from vernacular responses to climate, the economics of building height, the pathologizing of danchi in Japanese films, to fieldwork with present-day danchi residents. The architect-anthropologist Wajiro Kon, an influence on Knoroz, felt it was critical to listen directly to the people you were designing for. Knoroz's work reveals that even if listened to, it can be difficult to get residents to speak, a challenge provoking her exploration of multiple approaches to engagement, helping us better understand danchi life, and more generally, a challenge of participatory housing design.” (Casey Mack, architect, author of Digesting Metabolism)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan

    Tatiana Knoroz

About the author

Tatiana Knoroz is a scholar with a special interest in Japanese housing, anthropology of lived space and built environment. She spent several years in Tokyo and Kyoto researching the history of Japanese architecture and social housing and collecting fieldwork materials for her danchi project.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Dissecting the Danchi

  • Book Subtitle: Inside Japan’s Largest Postwar Housing Experiment

  • Authors: Tatiana Knoroz

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-16-8460-9

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Singapore

  • eBook Packages: Social Sciences, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2022

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-981-16-8459-3

  • eBook ISBN: 978-981-16-8460-9

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXV, 201

  • Number of Illustrations: 39 b/w illustrations, 60 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Political Sociology, Urban Economics, Asian Politics, Architecture

Buying options

eBook USD 84.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-16-8460-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)