We're Going Back to Japan!

If you’ve been following along with the Propel Studio story, you may be familiar with our collaborative efforts in Japan and Vietnam. We know there’s international interest in the design lessons and culture from Portland, Oregon, and we’re always excited to share our experiences.

In late 2015, through our collaborations with Prosper Portland, we had the opportunity to travel to Aridagawa, Japan to help a small town develop a new community asset. While we were there, we ran a series of community design workshops alongside PLACE studio. The goal was to engage the local residents to develop a new business incubator and community center that will help attract entrepreneurs and younger people to start business in the town.

Now, we’re going back!

This October, we’re excited to return to Aridagawa to see the results of the community design process and some of the completed work that came out of those workshops. Our new friends in Japan seemed to enjoy and even thrive in the community design process that we introduced to them and we look forward to seeing what creative ideas and businesses were started by the local community.

Community engagement workshops are a system that’s well rooted in Portland but was somewhat new to this small town in Japan. If you’re not familiar with the idea either, imagine a decision-making process for urban planning, architecture, and design that unites public, business and government needs and interests. It is a charrette process where all the diverse stakeholders convene in a place and everyone is able to communicate and influence the proposed development for the combined good of the community. In this case, we focused on how to convert an abandoned nursery school building into a thriving business and cultural hub.

When we go back this time, we’ll look forward to reconnecting with our friends in Aridagawa and hopefully, making new friends in Tokyo, Nanto, Osaka, and at Okayama University. These may seem like far-flung places, but we see a certain familiarity there. Many of the concerns and passions of our Japanese colleagues revolve around community-building, economic prosperity, equity, and multi-generational opportunities. Much of what we at Propel Studio design for and write about revolves around the same issues.

We’re looking forward to learning from new friends and hopefully sharing a little new knowledge and a process that will help build stronger, more vibrant communities for everyone involved.

You can learn more about our international efforts through a number of articles, including:

If you’d like to know more about our community design process or about how Portland design culture contribute to the design culture where you live, give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk about ways we can improve your community together.