Manabu Chiba

Main content

Manabu Chiba was educated at the University of Tokyo. In 2001 he established Chiba Manabu Architects. This Tokyo-based firm is engaged in extensive projects which range from government office buildings to small residential houses.
Chiba’s architectural planning draws upon the relationship between architecture and urban space. He always examines a city site closely and attempts to deduce the rules which govern it, which he then expresses in his architecture. At present he is engaged in rebuilding work following the earthquake disaster in Tohoku, Japan.
Chiba has won several prizes for his Japan Guide Dog Center and Kogakuin University projects. At the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards 2013 he was also distinguished with the Award of Merit for the Otaki Town Hall.
Manabu Chiba was a visiting lecturer at the ETH Zurich Department of Architecture from 2009 to 2010. He is now a professor at the University of Tokyo.

Date of presentation

30 Sep, 2014

Further Information

CV Manabu Chiba  

Review - Rezension Manu Chiba

In this charismatic lecture Manu Chiba presents a variety of new and old projects, in which he investigates what he calls the ‘in between space’. It is this traditional theme in Japanese architecture, the in between space, typical to a rural garden home, that Manu Chiba proposes to reinterpret for an urban context.
The investigation introduces well-known features of contemporary Japanese architecture and offers insight into the cultural driving force that forms the backbone of modern interpretations of a traditional way of life.
In early housing experiments we are introduced to problems and briefs Chiba set himself, like how to introduce an in between space into the dense context of a city. The dialectic of these contexts also becomes an area of interest, as they are spaces in which modern high-risers neighbour two-storey wooden houses.
Charming solutions to these problems include stainless-steel window frames that create kaleidoscopic views from the interior into neighbouring backyards or roof landscapes and living rooms that extend into the alleyways.
This theme is carried throughout Chiba’s presentation of his newer projects, and is best portrayed in his new campus building for the Kogakuin University in Tokyo. The ordinary program was organized in L-shaped buildings, which face each other at close proximity and provide four external courtyards. The proximity underlines the spatial quality of the in between space. The off-set facing lecture rooms create dynamic interrelations, inherent to the campus’ master plan.
Collaborations with graphic designer Asao Tokolo or photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto enrich Chiba’s work in a way only interdisciplinary collaborations can. It is evident that these are of great interest and fascination in his work, as he expresses his utmost respect for both men and describes their work with great care and admiration.
When asked if there is a difference in the approach to design in Japan compared to ETH, Chiba smiles and concurs. Perhaps it is the successful translation of tradition into the contemporary that sets the Japanese architect apart from his western colleagues; in Chiba’s case it certainly seems so.

Sören Davy

Page URL:
© 2017 Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich