Living in urban area means being surrounded by artificial stuff and services: energy, infrastructure and buildings, houses, cars, transportation systems, electronics, books, clothes and the list goes on. Even food is grown somewhere else, processed and delivered. Almost all the services are sold as commercial products. Cities have become a large-scale value chain of people, materials, technology and systems capable of industrializing everything including building environment, craftsmanship and hospitality.
But the consumers and users do not know how they work. As technology progressed, we were transformed to a species that can survive without knowing how things surrounding us work. 3.11 Tohoku earthquake/tsunami and subsequent nuclear plant meltdown were a huge wake-up call for Japanese to remember our subconscious anxiety that maybe this is not the right way to live.
When I visit traditional farming/fishing villages, I see the lives of people who face nature as part of their work on a daily basis. Of course they take advantage of cars and electronics, but they are more strongly bonded with anthropological elements such as local nature, history and beliefs. It is the way of life we have tried to reject as part of modernization because it was considered old, ineffective and rigid social system that would suppress freedom of individuals.
But after a long journey to achieve modern, industrialized, economic and efficient society, we are starting to realize we may have been missing something critical: direct connection with nature. A life directly connected nature is associated with various hardships. However, unless we re-think our way of living now, we will permanently lose rich anthropological experiences accumulated in local villages because they are on the verge of extinction from aging and social decline.
And this is where architecture comes into play. It has potential to connect industrial world and anthropological experiences using hybridizing approach. I designed Tanada Terrace Office leveraging four strong pillars that shape and support a “look-out post.” It employs SE structure that MUJI uses for their houses. First floor is a warehouse and a large veranda. Second floor is an office for industrial workers. I got some inspiration from Tanekura, Miyagawa-cho in Hida, and Ryuten at Korakuen Garden in Okayama.
Tanada Terrace Office is a modern version of “work in the field when sunny, and read when it rains.” It is full of potential to re-connect our lives to anthropological experiences.