Yamazaki Ryo is a community designer and a founder of STUDIO-L that has been leading community design for the community and the locals. He is also the professor and director of community design course at Tohoku University of Art and Design. While he was studying architecture and landscape design, the mega-earthquake that happened in Kobe in 1995 became a turning point for him to change his career from landscape design to community design. Yamazaki understood that in order to strengthen a capability to overcome the disaster, the most important thing was to build a community that could mutually support and help each other. For twenty years ever since, he has been looking for new ways of community design, and has been empowering and encouraging the community to create a city with solidarity between local people.
STUDIO-L’s community building is about ‘not creating and not designing’ something new by investing a massive capital but about ‘designing that revitalizes’ by finding solutions through the local community. Yamazaki’s role is to inspire and empower the locals so that they can voluntarily participate in local issues, so he enters their daily lives to find the issues within the community, and helps the locals find their own solution. He listens to the stories of the locals and combines their suggestions with public works. It is about connecting and making a space for the locals’ public purpose. Throughout this process, his major projects include community making workshop, comprehensive plan based on civic participation, and designing buildings and landscape for revitalizing the local area.
He has published some books including: 「Community Design」(2011), 「Social Design Atlas」(2012), 「The era of Community Design」 (2012), 「Happiness theory for the local area」 (2012). He is well known in Korea to those that are focusing and doing activities on direct democracy, and everyday democracy.