Opening of the Japanese Room marked with Traditional Tea Ceremony

April 15 / 155


The opening of the Japanese Room on the fourth floor of the Melbourne School of Design (MSD) was officially celebrated on Thursday 19 March with Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis, ABP Dean Tom Kvan, distinguished guests and staff taking part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea.


Distinguished Japanese Architect, Professor Shigeru Yura, who designed the original Japanese Room, travelled from Japan to participate in the ceremony and donate his project archive and a sketchbook by Douglas Annand, sculptor of the Wilson Hall mural, of his 1960 tour of Japan.


Professor Yura’s connection with the University goes back to 1960, when he was overseeing construction of the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Canberra, and met Douglas Annand. On a weekend trip to Melbourne, he met the Dean, Professor Brian Lewis, which led to his teaching Japanese Architecture at the University from 1963-1965, during which time the Japanese Room was designed.


The Japanese Room is an enhanced installation of the original 1960s design, with Professor Yura advising the MSD project team on its reassembly in the new space.


The relocation involved dismantling the components of the original room and the garden, preserving and cleaning as many of the original materials as possible including the wallpaper, and reinstating them in the custom designed space where daylight illuminates the quality of the design.


Speaking at the ceremony, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning Professor Tom Kvan said, “The juxtaposition of heritage elements and contemporary architecture in the new design also presents a learning opportunity for our students and has provoked much interest and discussion.”

University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis accepted Professor Yura’s generous donation on behalf of the University. This project archive for the original design of the Japanese Room offers an important historical archive for University students and researchers alike and will be housed in the University of Melbourne Archives.

As part of the event, Professor Yura performed two Noh songs, after which the tea ceremony was conducted and Kimono-clad attendants served matcha green tea to guests.

The Tea Ceremony was followed by a formal opening ceremony for the new building at which Allan Myers AO QC unveiled a commemorative plaque.

Story by Louisa Deasey

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