University of Tokyo - Department of Architecture

Kato Laboratory

Construct theories for contemporary and future architecture through research on fascinating architectures and cities in history.
Research Theme

At Kato’s laboratory, we focus on how architecture changed over time (architectural history as duration) rather than cataloging architecture by its completion date (architectural history as moment). Individuals freely choose their themes in our lab, mainly focusing on Western and modern/contemporary architecture, and conduct each research through discussions in seminars. We aim to reconstruct architectural history from various themes, not only architectural styles, but also philosophical aspects, materials and tectonics of architecture, media related to architecture, and architecture’s surroundings such as cities and regions.

―Architectural Theories―

In the 21st century, the common understanding of architectural studies developed in the modern era is no longer appropriate in many situations. At the same time, various new architectural approaches are emerging. We believe that architectural historians should reposition the modern view of architecture in a wider historical perspective.

Recent Thesis Subjects:
・Architecture beyond events: Aldo Rossi and postwar Italy
・”Democracy” in Louis Sullivan’s Late Thought: His Social thought and its Expression in the Ornament
・Architecture and Religion : Dom Hans van der Laan’s Architectural Theory


Since K. Frampton’s “Studies in Tectonic Culture”, there has been an emphasis on methodologies that focus on the materiality of architecture. By focusing on architecture as concrete objects, this theme aims to develop not only technical theory but also spatial theory and architectural theory. Examples of issues to be discussed are construction of architecture, its materials and structure.

Recent Thesis Subjects:
・Basic Study on the Construction of the Triforium in Gothic France
・Tracing the Construction of the Crystal Palace: Towards Architectural Construction History
・What does a barracks stand for in Japan?: The transition of the meanings and the variations in the temporary buildings
・Halls in Medieval England: A Study of Spatial Staging in the Context of Changing Behavioral Patterns


The spread of architectural media in modern times has had a great influence on the development and dissemination of architectural study and its culture. While architecture itself is a medium, there are various forms of architectural representation such as drawings, architectural photographs, artist’s statements and architectural criticism. This diversity of architectural media and representations provides an interdisciplinary possibility that connects architecture and other disciplines, as well as a perspective that connects professionals to society.

Recent Thesis Subjects:
・An Architectural Avant-garde in Interwar America: A Study on the Structural Study Associates (SSA) and Its Debates on Architecture
・Translators of Architecture: The Reception of Foreign Architectural Documents in Modern Japanese Journals
・The Making of Star Architect: Peter Eisenman’s Theory and Practice in the 1970s
・Historical Research on “Construction Photography” and Modern Architecture


Architecture is not established by itself, but is rooted in the city or region where it is located. Each city and region has its own culture that is influenced by political, economic, and other factors. By relativizing architecture within its surrounding environment, we reveal values that could not be seen from the building alone.

Recent Thesis Subjects:
・The Formation of Contemporary Norwegian Architectural Culture: Focusing on the Activities of C. Norberg-Schulz in the 1990s
・Architectural Situation of Modern Commercial Buildings: An Analysis of Harrods through the Urban Culture in London
・Comparative study of urban formation history and spatial composition in Navarra and Aragon. – Focusing on the relationship with the Santiago pilgrimage –
・Ian Nairn’s Subtopia: anti-suburbanism in post-war Britain and its impacts
・A Theory of “City Process” in the Environmental Crisis - City, Architecture and Environmental Thoughts in the United States, 1970s –


Junya Ishigami, GARDEN MIZUNIWA, from lab trip


Iwao Yamawaki, Atelier M, from lab trip


Yoshikazu Uchida, Misaki Coastal Laboratory, Survey of measurements during the demolition


For more detail: KATO LAB.
Principal Investigator: Koichi Kato