Prof. AOKI, Nobuo (青木信夫)
AOKI Nobuo received his Ph.D. degree in Architecture from the University of Tokyo. Formerly, he was a visiting scholar at Tsinghua University (1996-1997), assistant professor at the Faculty of Environment and Information Studies, and a senior researcher of Keio Research Institute at SFC in Keio University (1997-2002). During this period, he became a visiting professor at Southwest Jiaotong University (1999-present) while subsequently serving as senior research fellow at the Institute of Industrial Science of the University of Tokyo (2007-2010). In 2006, he assumed the position of specially-appointed professor in Tianjin University, and founded in 2008 the International Research Center for Chinese Cultural Heritage Conservation within the School of Architecture.
Other relevant positions occupied by Dr. Aoki include those of: Director of Professional Committee of Urban Sociology (Chinese Sociological Association, 2008-present); and researcher at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (2012-present).
- Research and teaching activities in Japan
Dr. AOKI Nobuo is a specialist on the urban and architectural history of East Asia. Prior to his doctoral dissertation, titled Historical Research on the construction and development of the imperial family manor / royal mansion in modern Japan (Tokyo University, 1996), he has co-authored the book A Hundred Years of Hazama-gumi (Vol. 1, 1989; Vol. 2, 1990), which details the development process of modern social infrastructure from the perspective of the Japanese construction industry, namely through the historical case study of Hazama Corporation. As for other scholarly collaborations, these include A Chronology of Japanese Art History—Color Plate Edition, Overview of Japanese Architecture, Modern Japanese-Style Architecture, and the exhibition catalogue Josiah Conder: A Victorian Architect in Japan, among other works which have remained influential to date.
During this period, he took part in the cooperative research project between the universities of Tokyo and Tsinghua, named “Foundational Research Concerning Modern Asian Architecture—A Survey of Existing Heritage: China, Taiwan, Korea, Macau, Hong Kong” (project supported by the Toyota Foundation, Japan; delegates: FUJIMORI Terunobu, WANG Tan). His participation in field surveys at these cities became the starting point for his studies on modern Chinese architecture.
After completing his doctorate course, he worked in Keio University as a lecturer for the Architectural Design and History of Architecture courses in the AUD program (Architecture and Urban Design). He was also in charge of the compulsory Information Processing course, which had been rated as the major’s top course by students.
Parallel to these teaching activities, he began researching about China and carried out the international cooperative project “Japan-China Joint Research on Sustainable Models of Balanced Development in Historic Cities in China: A Comprehensive Environmental Survey and Urban Maintenance Plan for Chengdu” (supported by The Toyota Foundation, Japan; delegates: AOKI Nobuo, 1999-2000).
- Main work achievements in Tianjin University during the past decade
Professor Aoki has been teaching in Tianjin University since 2006, being the sole foreign expert working in China with long-term experience in this field. Throughout this period, his main goals have remained the same: 1) to establish a solid foundation for international and interdisciplinary high-level scientific research in cultural heritage conservation; 2) to continuously improve the level of education concerning cultural heritage conservation and provide training for outstanding professionals in China; and 3) actively participate in conservational practices of Chinese cultural heritage while contributing towards international cooperative research efforts.
In 2008, he established the International Research Center for Chinese Cultural Heritage Conservation (IRC/CCHC), and was appointed as its first director by the president of Tianjin University. The research center’s core work is to synthesize methods for practice, education and research, and establish a platform for international cooperation in built heritage conservation.
Through his efforts to make this research institute a hub for international and interdisciplinary scientific research, it has been recognized in 2010 as a “Key Research Facility for Humanities and Social Science Studies within Tianjin City’s General Higher Education Institutes”, and in 2016, as a “Tianjin City Higher Education Think Tank”. In the following year of 2017, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences attributed to IRC/CCHC the designation of AMI China Core Think Tank. According to the “2017 China Think Tank Report”—which evaluates and ranks the influence of national think tanks and is published by the Think Tank Research Center of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences—this center ranks amongst the top ten professional national cultural think tanks deemed as most influential.
Professor Aoki’s main area of research is cultural heritage conservation. One of the main scientific research projects spearheaded by him is “A Strategic International Joint Venture towards Cultural Heritage Conservation and Regional Revitalization at the Leading Edge of Development: Urgent Urban Conservation Planning and the Formation of a Center of Excellence in Tianjin, the Northern Economic Center of China”, supported by The Toyota Foundation, Japan, 2008, which is a highly competitive fund with a successful selection rate of 2-3%.
Furthermore, besides taking part in several cooperative research projects, he has been in charge of the project titled “Conservation and Reactivation of Industrial Heritage in Tianjin’s Binhai New Area—Towards the Construction of an Innovative City” (General Project of the National Natural Science Foundation of China, 2009-2013) and subsequently of a major program under the Third Subtopic for Scientific Development (Research on Value Estimation of Industrial Heritage) titled “Conservation System Research of Modern Industrial Heritage in China” (Major Program of the National Social Science Foundation of China, 2013-2015).
Concerning his educational activities, Prof. Aoki has founded the courses “Conservation of Asian Cultural Heritage”, “Methodology of Cultural Heritage Study”, and “Case Studies in World Cultural Heritage”, which have effectively succeeded in their aims of overcoming current deficiencies in cultural heritage education; he is also currently in charge of the “Methodology of Cultural Heritage Study” course. In addition, he has established the lecture series “Tianjin Forum for Chinese Cultural Heritage Conservation” with more than 40 lectures held to date, which aim to generate further publicity and improve societal awareness of cultural heritage conservation.
In regard to intra-national and international cooperation activities, he served as tutor for 5th year student graduation projects, cooperative design projects within 8 universities, design courses in the Master program, workshops between Tianjin University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and workshops between Tianjin University and the University of Nottingham, among many other examples. Finally, he is also in charge of reviewing and assessing doctoral dissertations in Chinese as well as the application of research funds.
Based on the above-mentioned research platform, Prof. Aoki has successfully carried out applications for designation of World Heritage Site and Key National Cultural Heritage Conservation Units.
⬤ Application for World Heritage Sites and National Sites in the Silk Road Region
He was in charge of the plan titled “Conservational Planning of the Maiji Mountain Grotto” which is one of the Four Key Grottos of China, which was officially accepted by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. He also led the plan titled “Conservational Planning of the Large Buddhist Temple in Zhangye” which is a Key National Cultural Heritage Conservation Unit.
⬤ Conservation of the Taku Shipyard
The Taku Shipyard is one of the earliest industrial heritage sites of China, originally built in 1880. It is located at the central road in the designated central CBD of Binhai New Area. In light of this, Prof. Aoki submitted a conservation proposal to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage towards protecting its valuable heritage. In 2009, he led the conservation planning efforts within the Taku Shipyard Project for Tianjin Binhai New Area. As a result of these efforts, it has been designated as a Key National Cultural Heritage Conservation Unit.
⬤ Application for the 7th List of Key National Cultural Heritage Conservation Units
Prof. Aoki led the application procedure of Tianjin Wudadao Area inside the former British concession for its official designation as a “Chinese Historic Cultural Street”. Towards this end, he made detailed surveys together with teachers and students from the CCHC research center to obtain first-hand information, and subsequently submitted the completed application documentation. In September 2010, the Wudadao Area has become the first Key National Cultural Heritage Conservation Unit that has a block unit typology.
⬤ Conservation of Industrial Heritage
Tianjin is one of the first cities to stage the Chinese Industrial Revolution. The estimation of value and conservation of its industrial heritage is an essential part of the cultural heritage conservation of Tianjin City itself. Realizing its importance, the Tianjin Planning Bureau has commissioned the IRC/CCHC to conduct the research and surveying of Tianjin’s industrial heritage.
(4) International Exchanges & Cooperation
Prof. Aoki’s most noteworthy contributions towards international and interdisciplinary research include the following:
⬤ Promoting inter-college cooperation with international first-class universities. In 2009, he established cooperation agreements with Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. It was the first interdisciplinary research on Tianjin’s cultural heritage conservation conducted by Panthéon-Sorbonne in China. It focusses on the comprehensive urban study of Tianjin, including its cultural heritage, history, geography, tourism and other related fields.
⬤ He invited Prof. NISHIMURA Yukio (Vice-president of Tokyo University), Prof. FUJIMORI Terunobu (Honorary Professor of the University of Tokyo), and Roland Chih-Hung LIN (Researcher in UNESCO World Heritage Center) as guest professors in the Master and Ph.D. courses of Tianjin University.
⬤ He has actively promoted and hosted a number of international conferences, including the International Conference on Urban Cultural Heritage and Architectural Conservation of Tianjin in 2009 and 2013. Recently, his group has held the EAAC 2017 event (International Conference on East Asian Architectural Culture) in Tianjin.
⬤ Has also been invited to do lectures in both domestic and international universities, including Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Tokyo University, World Heritage Institute for Training and Research in the Asia-Pacific Region under the auspices of UNESCO in Suzhou, China, and delivered lectures for the 2010 Advanced Course on Conservation and Restoration Techniques of Traditional Architecture in the Asia-Pacific Region, China 2nd Symposium on Industrial Heritage, etc.
⬤ Promoting academic exchange agreements between the CCHC research center and the Center for Spatial Information Science at the University of Tokyo.
Prof. Aoki has been awarded on numerous occasions, including: the Haihe Friendship Award by the government of Tianjin in 2012; Outstanding Paper Award of the 4th Annual Conference of Tianjin Federation of Social Science (shared award, 2008); Outstanding Paper Award of the Architectural Society of China in 2012 (shared award); The 2nd prize of Distinguished Planning Design by the Ministry of Education, 2009 (shared award); “Faculty Pioneer” in research center activities by Tianjin University, 2011; and the Best Paper Award of EAAC in 2015 (shared award).
His students received in 2014 the Qingrun Award (China Architectural Education).
In addition, various domestic and international media outlets have reported widely on research activities conducted by him and IRC/CCHC, and he has been interviewed several times by Tianjin TV Station, the “people.cn” website and Jinwanbao Newspaper.