Seattle’s traditional seat of Asian culture, the International District, will call next week upon the skills of budding designers from Asia itself.
Eleven landscape architecture students from Japan’s Chiba University will join their University of Washington counterparts to develop urban-design proposals for key sites in the Chinatown-Nihonmachi-Little Saigon-International District, where community groups seek to preserve the area’s heritage amid development pressure.
Even though the Japanese students will first see the neighborhood on Monday, they have been working with UW students via the Web since September. In this “Global Classroom” project, students from the two nations collaborate not just on International District improvements but also on designs for a historic Japanese neighborhood near Tokyo called Kogane.
“This really is an experiment in cross-cultural collaboration,” said Jeffrey Hou, assistant professor of landscape architecture. “We’re discovering that you really can communicate ideas across borders.”
One UW student, sophomore Blaine Onishi, found that his proposed garden gateway in Kogane had to be downsized to fit Japanese traditions. On the other hand, Hou said, UW students were more inclined to preserve old buildings than their Japanese counterparts. An American and Japanese student pairs off on each site.
The students hope to contribute to the International District urban-design master plan now under way. Sites there include Hing Hay Park, King Street, 12th and Jackson, the Union Station area, Canton Alley and access to the Danny Woo Community Garden.
For more information, or to accompany the group in the International District on Feb. 24, contact Hou at (206) 543-7225 or http://www.caup.washington.edu/html/larch/chiba/