danchi dreams: cody ellingham captures the decay of japanese public housing

danchi dreams: cody ellingham captures the decay of japanese public housing

cody ellingham’s latest photographic project ‘danchi dreams’ explores large japanese public housing blocks known as ‘danchi’ (jap. ‘group land’) over the past year. danchi emerged across japan in the 1960s to cope with rapidly growing urban populations.

toshima gochome danchi across the sumida river



from 3- and 4-story buildings on the edges of cities to massive clusters of 15-story blocks complete with schools, shops, and playgrounds, the concrete communities of danchi replaced the wood and dirt of old japan. danchi were not just housing projects but were a dream for many, something to aspire to.



the houses were a vision of a harmonious life and japan’s newfound prosperity. half a century later danchi are in decay — the concrete symbol of japan’s economic miracle and post-war identity are slowly being forgotten and some are already gone.

kawaramachi danchi



photographing them at night, ellingham captures the danchi at the time of dreams. visiting over 40 complexes, he observes both the signature of decline and also the promise of that original dream however slight. more ellingham’s works can be seen on his instagram page.

shirahige danchi

nakanoshima tamagawa danchi

shibazono danchi

toshima gochome danchi

hirao danchi

kawaramachi danchi

toei koenji apartments

aoyama kitamachi danchi


designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: maria erman | designboom

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