Activating emptiness: Bricolage of Japanese urban context

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[Extract] The focus of this paper is the concept “empty center” of Japanese cities, famous for Roland Barthes’ descriptions on Tokyo.This semiotic paradox, or binary opposition in Derridean terms,exposes not only the noticeable difference in the appearance of “Western” and Japanese cities, but also the value-laden and ethnocentric categorization of signs in the structural interpretations of their meaning. Whereas the former cities are typically characterized by a center marked by the culture’s symbols,such as a church, a town hall, a cluster of company headquarters,and so on, the absence of anything in the center of a Japanese city is often interpreted as “hollowness” which completely disregards the plurality of meanings in this cultural framework.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCities in Transformation Research & Design
Subtitle of host publicationIdeas, Methods, Techniques, Tools, Case Studies
Place of PublicationLeuven
Number of pages4
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-930301-56-3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes
EventEAAE/ARCC International Conference on Architectural Research - Milano, Milano, Italy
Duration: 7 Jun 201210 Jun 2012


ConferenceEAAE/ARCC International Conference on Architectural Research
Internet address


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