Cathryn Ladd

Cathryn's research interest explores architectural identity through a feminist lens.

Japanese microhouse - Cathryn Ladd research

My research looks at the architectural development of the Japanese kyosho jutaku or micro house within the context of Tokyo. The central focus is to move away from the dominant western narrative that is perpetuated by popular architectural culture, that of the kyosho jutaku as an exoticised design object. Instead this project aims to reveal the kyosho jutaku as a housing model that has a complex and intricate spatial, social, and national identity.

This project uses a feminist lens of looking and producing knowledge as its methodological approach and uses the feminist binary of public / private as its theoretical framework. The kyosho jutaku has a public life - which will be explored through its relationship to urban space, social realities and national identity. Similarly, it also has a private life, which is conceptualised by the Japanese notion of oku-dokoro or inner place. These inner private spatial dimensions will be explored through the architectural and philosophical concepts of fluidity and intimacy. Through discussing and analysing fluid, connective and intimate space, the rigid division of the public / private binary becomes unstable. This instability will be exposed and explored through looking at in-between spaces and the collapse of boundaries, in particular that of uchi/soto (inside/outside).

To draw this architectural identity into a global conversation, this research will look towards the future. I will critically consider the extent to which the public / private architectural identity of the kyosho jutaku is fundamentally connected and defined by the notion of “Japan-ness”, an ideology conceptualised by architect Arata Isozaki. This in turn will form a discussion around the kyosho jutaku’s ability to transcend place and time in order to re-emerge in new urban territories.