Yoko Kawai

Yoko Kawai's picture
CEAS Affiliate
Yale University School of Architecture
180 York St, New Haven, CT 06511

Yoko Kawai has taught theories of Japanese architecture and gardens at the Yale School of Architecture since 2010. Her mission is to create “space for well-being” by utilizing the Japanese spatial concepts. She believes that non-dichotomous and nature-oriented spatial concepts of Japan are indispensable, both for the technology-driven cities and architecture and for the well-being of individuals in such environment. She advocates this value through research, education, and design practice.

Yoko is principal of Penguin Environmental Design in Hamden, Connecticut. Her firm focuses on incorporating landscape into architecture. Its works include a residential project that received CTC&G Award in 2015, a Japanese garden at Frost Valley YMCA in 2014, a dry garden for the Yale University Art Gallery in 2009, and the chosen proposal for the Windscape competition by BSA in 2006.

In 2016, Yoko co-founded Mirai Work Space Alliance in New York. There, she and her colleagues bring “Space for Well-Being” to contemporary workplaces.

Yoko’s research encompasses Japanese spatial concepts, space for well-being, and the influence of ICT on cities and architecture. Her articles appeared in various scholarly journals, including Journal of Green Building and Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering. Her recent works include “Choose, Create, and Connect: How Telework is Changing Space Around Us” in Residential and Community Spaces in the Future (in Japanese) published by Asakawa-shoten in 2014.

Prior to joining the faculty at Yale, Yoko taught Japanese architecture and design studios at the New York Institute of Technology and in Japan at St. Agnes University, Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, and Setsunan University.

Yoko received a B.Eng. in Architecture from Kyoto University, a M.Arch. in Urban Design from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Kobe University.


ARCH 3240

Spatial Concepts of Japan

This seminar explores the origins and developments of Japanese spatial concepts and surveys how they help form the contemporary architecture, ways of life, and cities of the country. Many Japanese spatial concepts, such as MA, are about creating time-space distances and relationship between objects, people, space, and experiences. These concepts go beyond the fabric of a built structure, and encompass architecture, landscape, and city. Each class is designed around one or two Japanese words that signify particular design concepts. Each week, a lecture on the word(s) with its design features, backgrounds, historical examples, and contemporary application is followed by student discussion. Contemporary works studied include those by Maki, Isozaki, Ando, Ito, SANAA, and Fujimoto. The urbanism and landscape of Tokyo and Kyoto are discussed. Students are required to make in-class presentations and write a final paper. 

Term: Fall 2023
Day/Time: W 2:00 PM - 3:50 PM