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Virtual Event

Talking Sustainability – Ancient Wisdom, Modern Practice

Japan Society & Japan Institute of Portland Japanese Garden Present: The Third Live Webinar of the 2022-23 Living Traditions Series, A Multi-Part Program Designed to Examine Iconic Facets of Japanese Culture From Ancient Roots to Modern Day

During the pandemic lockdown, many people across the world returned to nature, with a dramatic increase in outdoor activities such as nature walks, wildlife watching, and gardening. This time outdoors helped inspire an increasing awareness of the importance of living in harmony with the natural world, which includes greater environmental sustainability and reusing and repairing resources through a diverse and circular economy. Not coincidently, there is a growing global discourse around the role of architecture and landscape architecture to re-evaluate traditional land-use methods, their possible applications to modern life, and how they might support more robust biodiversity.

Talking Sustainability—Ancient Wisdom, Modern Practice invites audiences around the globe to a virtual discussion around the core issues of environmental sustainability in architecture and landscapes, drawing on how the wisdom of the past still informs the way that contemporary architects seek to harmonize built and natural environments. Highlighting award-winning projects by architects Hiroshi Sambuichi and Hiroshi Nakamura, our expert speakers will explore the pre-modern relationship between humanity and the rest of nature while assessing how global connectivity may create a true symbiosis between the two.

This is a free event, with advance registration required. The program will be live streamed through YouTube and registrants will receive the viewing link by email on the day before the event. Participants can submit questions through YouTube during the live stream.


Azby Brown, Author, Artist, Designer

Azby Brown is a native of New Orleans and has lived in Japan since 1985. A widely published author and authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environment, his groundbreaking writings on traditional Japanese carpentry, compact housing, and traditional sustainable practices of Japan are recognized as having brought these fields to the awareness of Western designers and the general public. In addition to The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (1989/2014), he has written Small Spaces (1993), The Japanese Dream House (2001), The Very Small Home (2005), and Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan (2009/2022). He retired in 2017 from the Kanazawa Institute of Technology, where he founded the Future Design Institute, and is currently on the sculpture faculty of Musashino Art University in Tokyo and the architecture faculty at Japan Women’s University.


Ken Tadashi Oshima, Professor of Architecture, University of Washington

Ken Tadashi Oshima is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he teaches in the areas of trans-national architectural history, theory and design. He has also been a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and UCLA. He received a PhD in architectural history and theory from Columbia University, March from U.C. Berkeley and A.B. degree, magna cum laude, from Harvard College. Dr. Oshima was President of the Society of Architectural Historians from 2016-18 and author of Kiyonori Kikutake Between Land and Sea (2015), Global Ends—Towards the Beginning (2012), International Architecture in Interwar Japan: Constructing Kokusai Kenchiku (2009), and Arata Isozaki (2009). His articles on the international context of architecture and urbanism in Japan have been published in journals including Architectural Review, Architectural Theory Review, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Kenchiku Bunka, Japan Architect, L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui, and the AA Files.



Željka Carol Kekez, Urban Designer

Željka Carol Kekez is an award-winning business strategist, urban designer, professor, author, and curator. A founding partner of the internationally acclaimed design studio PLACE, Carol has helped lead the organization on initiatives that pursue a better world by synergizing nature, art, philanthropy, and placemaking. Carol regularly hosts Japanese delegations and pop-up gatherings at PLACE and has led a Portland-team in interactive public-private partnerships titled ‘We Build Green Cities’ to reinvigorate Japan’s declining rural communities. Carol’s notable engagement with Japan’s creatives also includes the World River Story, a social sculpture project to improve the state of the world rivers. Though her responsibilities and interests take her all around the world, Carol is also actively involved with professional and community service endeavors in Portland, including the Architecture Foundation of Oregon (afo), the Halprin Landscape Conservancy, the Oregon China Council’s Climate Summit, jurying professional and academic design competitions, and mentoring future generations of designers at Portland State University’s School of Architecture.



Living Traditions webinar series is co-presented with Japan Society and supported by the Government of Japan.


Japan Institute

Japan Institute can be best understood as the next evolution of Portland Japanese Garden. These sibling organizations share a vision – to be a leading global voice for cultural understanding, in pursuit of a more peaceful, sustainable world.