Education / Research

Workshop atelier/terrain 2009 Kobe (Japan)

The development of the Urban Landscape of the City of Kobe

Located 430 km South-West of Tokyo, the City of Kobe is the 6th largest city in Japan and the capital of the Hyogo prefecture with over 1 500 000 inhabitants. Cosmopolitan city with an important harbour, Kobe was the first Nipponese city to establish commercial links with Western countries. Even with the Hanshin earthquake of 1995, that reduced considerably the harbour’s activity, Kobe remains the 4th biggest port of Japan.The City of Kobe covers an area of 552.80 km 2 and it crossed by the Rokko mountains system, its highest point being located at an altitude of 931.3 m. The majority of the territory is urbanized and consists of long and narrow zone located between the mountains and the shore of the Inland Sea of Osaka Bay. In front of the shore, two artificial islands, Port Island and Rokko Island, were constructed in order to allow space for the city’s expansion.The City of Kobe was designated “UNESCO City of Design” in autumn 2008, thus joining the network of UNESCO’s creative cities; the same title that was given to Montreal in June of 2006. The Workshop_atelier/terrain of Kobe (WAT_Kobe) by the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design is the first international activity to be realized linked to this designation in regards to issues related to urban development.


The development of the Urban Landscape of the City of Kobe

Supported by local experts of the City of Kobe, all scientific partners of CUPEUM specialized in architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design will hold this autumn, a multidisciplinary reflection across a multicultural dialog on the development of six downtown urban areas of Kobe. Meeting in Kobe for 13 days, the 52 students originating from eight countries (Canada, China, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia) will be supervised by an academic team of 11 professors from the involved institutions. These participants, all specialized in urban design, will produce 12 landscaping projects for the City of Kobe. At the end of the workshop, these design propositions will be evaluated by a UNESCO jury and afterwards, be given to the municipality in order to implement some of the ideas.


The International Workshop_atelier/terrain (WAT) of the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design of the University of Montreal

Under the scientific direction of the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design of the University of Montreal (Canada) and with the help of its international cooperation network, the municipality of Kobe is supporting the realization of the WAT that will take place between November 8th and 21st 2009 inclusively. The implementation of this activity promotes a genuine approach with local governments and it also benefits the support of UNESCO MOST program, the Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, Ministry of Education, Culture , Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan, the Embassy of Canada to Japan, the Quebec Government Office in Tokyo as well as the Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec. Kobe Design University and Kobe University are the Japanese scientific partners of the WAT and will join the international cooperation network of the CUPEUM, already composed of 23 university institutions from five regions of the world: Asia, North America, the Maghreb, the Middle-East, and Europe.


Study area: sites and issues

The principal issues that will be brought up during this activity are related to the environmental concerns, cultural heritage, everyday environment quality, urban landscape identity as well as sustainable development. Along with representatives of the City of Kobe and participating Japanese universities, the landscape management issues have been identified and six specific sites have been selected in order to elaborate the urban design projects for the development of Kobe. The issues related to each site have also been identified in order to direct the interventions:


Hyogo’s Canal

Urban Characterization:Industrial space conversion, vestiges, canals estimated as heritage (important role in the development of the port of Kobe), historical district, changing urban spaces.

Issues: Revitalizing areas surrounding canals (public spaces anddevelopment) and its use (water activities);Cityscape creation using the environment along canals the enhancement and development opportunities; Using historical resources and canals; Responding to the conversion of land use; Mixed-using between residential environments and industry.


Nishide, Higashide District

Urban Characterization: Urban history, typical urban morphology of the architectural history of Kobe, residential space, neighbourhood identity, harbour interface (area of ship repair).

Issues: Improvement of urban densely built-up residential area;Development of an urban landscape identity; Community design using regional resources.


Old Minato River

Urban Characterization: Commercial urban axis, major traffic axis, river canalised urban interface, pipeline assets.

Issues: Decline of the shopping center; Enhancement of a historical area (old river and ancienturban center of Kobe);Recognition of the past and its interface with the southern district (Nishide, Higashide District) and mountain; Reinventing an urban landscape that contributes to Kobe urban identity.


Downtown Waterfront

Urban Characterization: Abandoned port area, historic waterfront of the City of Kobe,coastline of the former foreign concession.

Issues: Conversion from harbour use to urban use;Making use of historical buildings;Improvement of wandering of the city center andwaterfront;Creating a harborscape unique to Kobe.


The Foot of Mt. Rokko

Urban Characterization: City / mountain interface, hills of Mount Rokko, iconic landscape of the City of Kobe, walking trails on the hillside, public park (water reservoir), sacred space (cemeteries and temples).

Issues: Improving the mountain-foot urban area; Preserving and developing the observatory landscape; Promoting an environment of green spaces to enjoy the Landscape.


Ikuta River Valley

Urbanisation characterisation:Important urban traffic axis for the City of Kobe, urban park(linear public space), reappropriation of the river, entrance to town (railway station), urban interface with the hills of the Rokko mountains system.

Issues: Creating a City Gate;Creating a river axis scenery.


Kobe’s “Workshop_atelier/terrain” will benefit from a large visibility and many activities are already planned to promote the results. In Japan, the activity will be promoted on Web sites and newsletters of the City of Kobe and the participating Japanese universities. Local and regional media will also cover this event, especially its closing where the results and the recipients of the UNESCO medals will be announced. After the closing of this international meeting, the projects will be exposed at Kobe Design University from November 20th to 27th 2009 and afterwards from December 7th to 20th in Kobe’s City Hall. The WAT_

Kobe projects will also be presented at the Embassy of Canada to Japan from January 26th to 28th 2010 as well as during Shanghai’s Universal Exhibition (2010). On an international level, the information on the WAT_Kobe will be communicated in all the countries involved in the WAT network (5 world regions). Web sites specialized in architecture/urban design/design will also post the information related to the WAT. On their sides, UNESCO in Paris will insure the diffusion among the Member States and the Embassy of Canada to Japan will communicate the information across the embassies of the countries part of the UNESCO Chair’s network. First activity of networking and cooperation between the City of Montreal and the City of Kobe on the subject of urban design, the information is already available on the website “Réalisons Montréal Ville UNESCO de Design”, a platform promoting all initiatives of the UNESCO design cities’ network ( Also, the results of the WAT_Kobe will be part of the “Observatoire international des paysages urbains : ville et métropoles” of the UNESCO Chair and like in the previous WAT editions they will be included in a book published by the Presses de l’Université de Montréal (PUM).



1st price

Project 1 " Merging Landscapes " – Hyogo’s canal

2nd price

Project 6 " Through garden " – Old Minato River

3rd price ex aequo

Project 10 "Be_Ko_Be" – Ikuta River Valley

Project 11 "Rokkobe"- The foot of Mt. Rokko


Reference documents

Official leaflet


Press release


Newspaper articles


Call for candidatures

  • Students in Landscape Architecture or Architecture at the Faculté d’aménagement-Université de Montréal

Call for candidatures


APA 4300 Processus et Design A 2009

  • Course Syllabus– School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Montreal



  • Involved universities
    • Canada
    • University of Montreal
    • School of Landscape Architecture
    • School of Architecture
    • China
    • Tongji University
    • College of Architecture and Urban Design
    • School of Urban Planning
    • School of Architecture
    • Italy
    • University of Rome La Sapienza
    • Department of Architecture
    • Department of Environmental Design and Urban Planning
    • University of Sassari
    • Alghero Faculty of Architecture
    • Japan
    • Kobe University
    • Graduate School of Engineering
    • Kobe Design University
    • Department of Environmental Design, School of Design
    • Lebanon
    • Lebanese University of Beirut (UL)
    • Urban Planning Department-Fine Arts Institute
    • American University of Beirut (AUB)
    • Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem
    • Management (LDEM)
    • Morocco
    • National School of Architecture (ENA)
    • Syria
    • Damacus University
    • Faculty of Architecture
    • Tunisia
    • University of November 7th at Carthage
    • National School of Architecture and Urban Planning
  • Organizer
    • Chaire UNESCO en paysage et environnement de l'Université de Montréal (CUPEUM)-Canada
    • City of Kobe- Kobe, UNESCO city of Design -Japan
    • Design University of Kobe-Japan
    • University of Kobe-Japan
  • Partners-National and Interntional support
    • Embassy of Canada-Japan
    • General delagation of Quebec in Tokyo-Japan
    • Japanese National Commission for UNESCO-Japan
    • UNESCO MOST program Paris-France
    • Permanent delegation of Canada to UNESCO Paris-France
    • Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology-Japan
    • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan-Japan
    • Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec-Canada
    • Japanese Conculate in Montreal-Canada
    • City of Montreal- Montreal UNESCO City of Design-Canada
  • Scientific committee and coordination
    • Philippe Poullaouec-Gonidec, Director, UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design of the University of Montreal (CUPEUM) and Full time Professor, School of Landscape Architecture (Canada);
    • Lyndsay Daudier, Project Assistant and Researcher Agent, Unesco Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design of the University of Montreal CUPEUM-Canada
    • Stefan Tischer, Professor, University of Sassari-Italy
    • Yoshiyuki Neishi, Manager, Research and Coordination, Design City Promotion Office-Planning and Coordination, City of Kobe-Japan
    • Hidenori Sakurai, Director, Landscaping Division Planning Department-Urban Planning & Housing, City of Kobe-Japan
    • Takahito Saiki, President, Kobe Design University-Japan
    • Takeo Kawakita, Professor, Kobe Design University-Japan
    • Hiroyuki Sasakim, Associate Professor, Kobe Design University-Japan
    • Koichi Miwa, Associate Professor, Kobe University-Japan, Naoko Kuriyama, Assistant Professor, Kobe University-Japan
    • Shingo Suekane, Professor, Kansai University-Japan
  • Local Expert
    • Koichi Miwa, Associate professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Kobe University
    • Hiroshi Adachi, Professor, Graduate School of Engineering, Kobe University
    • Takafumi Inoue, Director General, Design city promotion office, Planning and Coordination, City of Kobe
    • Fumitoshi Ito, Director General, Urban Planning and Housing, City of Kobe