Welsh School of Architecture

Architectural History & Theory (AHTG)

Alex Veal

My PhD is funded by an award from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and supervised by Professor Richard Weston. It builds on my recent experience as a Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation scholar (2003-5), living and working in Tokyo. The scholarship programme involved an extensive period of Japanese language training, a cultural studies course at Hosei University, training in traditional carpentry techniques at Tokyo Kenchiku College and work experience at Kengo Kuma Associates. Whilst in Japan, I also had the opportunity to spend a month in a traditional machiya in Kyoto, to photograph many of the old capital's traditional buildings, and to complete a 530 km walk along the old Nakasendo Road. I returned to Cardiff in May 2005 to resume studies on my PhD, having previously completed BSc and MArch degrees here (2000 and 2002), and having worked here as a teaching assistant (2002-3). I have published articles on my research in made ('Reinterpreting Aalto: The Japanese column', made, issue 1, 2004, p94-95) and arq ('Time in Japanese architecture: tradition and Tadao Ando', Architectural Research Quarterly, vol 6, no 4, 2002, pp 349-362) and am currently engaged as Editorial Assistant for arq.

PhD Research
The Influence of Japan on European Modernism

My research project is provisionally entitled The Influence of Japan on European Modernism and is an investigation into Western architects' attitudes towards Japan and traditional Japanese architecture during the early twentieth century. I began by considering the reception of Japan in the Western architectural press, and through a systematic process of analysis, was able to identify several dominant themes in the development of understanding of Japanese precedent. I then went on to consider the specific case of Finland, where the influence of Japanese building traditions is particularly marked, especially in the work of architects such as Alvar Aalto. At present I am investigating a similar situation in Germany, where, although the effects were perhaps less obvious than in Scandinavia, the underlying influence was nevertheless deeply pervasive.

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