Make Do With Now: New Directions in Japanese Architecture

dot architects, Chidori Bunka, 2014–19 © Yoshiro Masuda / Make Do With Now: New Directions in Japanese Architecture

Estonian Museum of Architecture hosts from January 19 to April 28 an exhibition “Make Do With Now: New Directions in Japanese Architecture”. The exhibition curated by Yuma Shinohara and produced by S AM Swiss Architecture Museum sheds light on an emerging generation of architects and urban practitioners in Japan.

On Friday, January 19, 2024, at 2 p.m. architects Chie Konno (teco), Wataru Doi (dot) and Ulla Alla (, Estonia) will present their work on a seminar moderated by Yuma Shinohara.

At 5 p.m., the opening of the exhibition “Make Do With Now: New Directions in Japanese Architecture” will follow.

“Make Do With Now” introduces the thinking and projects of a new generation of architects and urban practitioners working in Japan today. Born between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s, the architects featured in the exhibition largely entered professional practice following the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster. This is a generation that must grapple with a range of urgent problems, including a declining of cities, ageing population and an emptying countryside; the proliferation of vacant houses across the nation; profit-driven urban development, mostly without the involvement of architects; a stagnant economy; and, of course, the global climate crisis.

Many architects of this cohort are developing a range of critical, ecological, and social practices that creatively “make do” – with limited resources, with found materials, or with existing spaces. In contrast to the clean lines and minimalist spaces mostly associated with contemporary Japanese architecture, these projects pursue a decidedly different aesthetic politics that is not afraid to leave things rough around the edges. These practitioners are articulating a new architectural agency that radically departs from the traditional image of the architect-author.

Triin Ojari, director of the Estonian Museum of Architecture points out that topics such as reconstruction, material reuse and inclusive design are relevant in architecture globally, a future oriented towards degrowth forces us to find new solutions: “The new generation has taken the view that we already have enough of everything – we just have to deal with it. Recycling has been in the focus of the Estonian Museum of Architecture before, in 2023 the museum exhibited the monumental installation Urban Stocks by architects Laura Linsi and Roland Reemaa, which explored smart ways of sourcing building materials from urban space“.

The discussions among architects and Japanese multi-layered urban space are brought closer to the viewer by numerous films, models and large-scale photographs. One can see how difficult it is to reduce the attitudes and concerns of this generation of architects to a single issue. Rather, it is about different creators who are looking for new operating models of architecture and trying to answer the challenges related to their profession as well as society at large.

See the selection of photos.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue including detailed documentation of the featured projects as well as essays by established and emerging experts on contemporary architecture in Japan. Yuma Shinohara, Andreas Ruby (eds): ‘Make Do With Now: New Directions In Japanese Architecture’, published by Christoph Merian Verlag.

The exhibition „Make Do With Now. New Directions of Japanese Architecture“ in Estonian Museum of Architecture is open until April 28, 2024.

Curator: Yuma Shinohara (S AM Swiss Architecture Museum)

Films: Studio GROSS, Photography: Go Itami, Set Design: Yusuke Seki
Exhibition design by Tomomi Hayashi, Erina Shibagaki and Robi Jõeleht
Supporters: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Japan Foundation.
We are grateful to the Embassy of Japan in Estonia.

Additional information:
Triin Ojari,