Since even before the opening of the Urban Research Plaza in April 2006, we had initiated and been actively involved in a number of projects. In the list below, we introduce a number of these project initiatives begun since 2005. These projects have been funded in part by the university’s Research for Urban Issues
These project initiatives stand on the twin pillars of academic and policy orientations. Academically oriented projects have a goal of constructing a grand theory of 21st century urbanism, and policy oriented projects carry out research and surveys and make pronouncements about policies for creativity and revitalization in cities, while also engaging in actual urban growth program activities.
Senba Art Café
This is an experiment pursuing the possibilities of the arts in cities, focusing on the bonding power and the power of mediation that the arts have. Centered around a base in a mixed-residential building in Senba in Osaka’s inner city, we are conducting performances, workshops, and exhibitions in an unexpected urban location.
This is a project that examines putting into practice means of communication through the arts and searches for ways for citizens to share such information, experience, and technology. It is also an experiment in initiating new cultural content from Osaka’s inner city.
Project website at:http://art-cafe.ur-plaza.osaka-cu.ac.jp/
This is about the development, applied use, and dissemination of a dispersed geographic information system (GIS). This project links together various related bodies in a dispersed system and is compiling an overall database using historical geographical information, such as a quasi-orthographic aerial image of the whole of Osaka City from 1942.
project website at: http://www.globalbase.org/
Information Technologies for Encouraging Local Community: ‘Nagara’ Navigation
Making strolling the streets enjoyable through a cell-phone navigation system, and bringing life back to the streets and local communities. This is a project creating a way for ‘on-site’ communication among visitors and inhabitants on the street using the mobile information technologies.
Related Project: Machinavi
Osaka Employment, Welfare, and Housing Problems Research Association
In the cities of Japan and East Asia, the phenomena of housing insecurity, for example the problem of homelessness, are problems requiring urgent solutions. In the midst of insecure housing conditions that result in homelessness, this is an interdisciplinary project keeping up with the latest aid measures throughout the path from homelessness to temporary transit shelters to settled residency and employment, and carrying out survey research that leads to the swift development of aid measures and activities that aid in policy formation.
Project website: http://www.osaka-sfk.com/
‘Battleship Apartments’ Project
The renovated iron-reinforced concrete housing built in the Naniwa district is symbolic of social infrastructure built by Osaka City in the pre-war Showa era. These buildings, which existed in three locations, have been gradually rebuilt, and the last remaining one, Shitadera Housing (erected in 1930-31) is being torn down in 2006. This project is recording the renovation circumstances, changes in residency style, and environment of these buildings which have been continually occupied for 75 years, while placing them in the context of social infrastructure and reviewing the building designs and intentions of the time.
Urban Land Environmental Research Project
The major cities of Japan and East Asia are experiencing problems arising from the mutual relationship of environmental problems and urban land disasters. This project is an interdisciplinary examination of the respective characteristics of the combined natural and man-made urban land base, and provides basic information as a resource towards implementing sustainable use of the land base.
Project website: http://www.sci.osaka-cu.ac.jp/geos/geo3/project/
Open Jury of the Departments of Urban Environmental Engineering and Architecture
The Urban Environmental Engineering Department and the Architecture Department of the School of Engineering are holding an open critical review in central Osaka of their urban designs aimed at Osaka’s inner city .This is an experiment that goes outside the school for the purpose of stimulating heated discussion at the actual location of urban building projects. This is a first step towards continuing such projects in the future.
Los Angeles-Osaka Project
The Los Angeles-Osaka Comparative Urban Research Project was jointly set up by the University of Southern California and Osaka City University. The purpose of this project is to carry out research on Los Angeles County and the Kansai region, and provide the necessary information to compare the two regions. It also aims to study the mutual relationships between these two world cities located on the Pacific Rim.
East Asia Homeless Problem Research Group
The problems of the homeless, whose numbers rapidly increased in Japanese cities in the 1990s, exposed to the light of day the dysfunctional nature of existing urban policies and the social welfare system. The purpose of this project is to conduct surveys and support towards construction of a thorough system of self-support aid for the homeless in the broadest sense, not strictly just those already homeless, but those whose family ties have been cut and can only live in inadequate housing. We carry out surveys, put aid measures into practice, and encourage cooperation and mutual exchanges in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. We are dedicated to advocating the key concepts of social and spatial inclusion in the social policies and welfare-state style solutions that are directed at the housing-insecure groups in East Asia.
Project website: http://geosv.lit.osaka-cu.ac.jp/homeless/