A very interesting project I found is the Kumamoto Art Police (くまもとアートポリス) which was put into place by the japanese prefecture of Kumamoto (熊本県).
The goal of the project is to generate awareness about the importance of good architecture by simply letting good architects build public facilities. From the english description:
It is time for human beings to pursue not only material wealth but also spiritual wealth. Construction must hence be focus on design as well as function.
The Artpolis Project strives to make Kumamoto a global center for regarding the construction of well made buildings that can be passed down to succeeding generations as well as the development of local areas and creating an overall high quality living environment.
We aim to enhance the city’s culture and architectural culture via the independent creativity of the local residents and by raising awareness of environmental design.
This must be one of the best projects to have public funding ever.
You have to understand that even though Japan may very well have one of the highest percentages of good architects, the cityscapes are not so very sexy. The people in charge in Kumamoto apparently thought in a similar way:
Even after the introduction of steel frames and reinforced concrete, Japanese towns have been reconstructed every twenty years.
Facing the second reconstruction period since World War II, and at a time when city redevelopment projects had been incorporated, the Artpolis project was launched in 1988.
But you should check it out for yourself so here you go with some links:
The main page (in english)
The project list (in english)
The japanese page with thumbnails of the projects
I’ve been in Kumamoto City myself in 2007. If you look at my Flickr photos you’ll find a picture of Kumamoto Castle. Unfortunately I didn’t know about the Kumamoto Artpolis project back then or you would probably find more pictures of that too. Well, there’s always next time I guess…