Each summer for the past 10 years, Shin Egashira, a unit master at the Architectural Association in London's Bedford Square, has run a student workshop at the village of Koshirakura some 200km north of Tokyo. Now the subject of an exhibition at the AA (see picture), it began when the regional prefecture identified Koshirakura as a 'marginalised village' in need of revitalisation. But Egashira has been careful to avoid the sense of bright students parachuting in to do 'good works' and then exiting - the emphasis has been on 'intercultural exchange', which comes across in the diary of each year's activities included at the AA, where contributions from the village residents are interspersed among those of the students, and reveal genuine warmth on both sides.
The workshops became still more pertinent after the Niigata earthquake in 2004, which threw Koshirakura's terraced landscape into disarray. It was landscape that the workshops first focused on, and one of the most engaging projects here - in a series which includes such built works as a bus shelter, a pavilion and a viewing platform - involved the installation of 22 'reading chairs' in carefully selected spots around the village, directed to particular features of the landscape and linked by renewed segments of old or disused paths. The AA show gives a strong sense of what's clearly been a really worthwhile undertaking, and a book on the workshops will be published soon ( www. aaschool. ac. uk).
Among the most enterprising attempts to integrate architecture and landscape that the AJ has published lately are the projects of Duncan Lewis and his practice Scape Architecture, both in his adopted country, France, and further afield - a school in Norway, for instance (AJ 22.05.03). Lewis is one of the speakers at this year's RSAW annual conference, Outside the Box, which takes place in Cardiff on Friday 24 November. As the title suggests, the aim is to look at what architects can learn from their collaborators in other disciplines, and joining Lewis on the platform are engineer Mark Whitby, artist Gordon Young, and author Charles Jencks - whose own 'cosmic' landscape gardens will no doubt feature ( www. architecture-wales. com).