Umbrella Flowers

Inexpensive vinyl umbrellas that are easily available come in handy for unexpected showers. The vinyl umbrella is becoming a symbol of mass-consumption, however, since many are disposed of after use. About three hundred discarded umbrellas were prepared at a site of an event held to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.
The umbrellas were employed as a material in an initiative that builds shelters through the clever use of familiar objects around us. While such events tend to carry serious themes, the organizers’ intention in getting architects and designers to propose shelters using “familiar objects around us” was to inspire people to incorporate disaster prevention measures into the fabric of daily living and see it as something more familiar, rather than as a special effort for earthquakes. If we define a shelter as a place for evacuation during an emergency, the one in the photograph made by linking umbrellas in a grid pattern appears too fragile for a shelter. Nevertheless, seeing the idea in coming up with such a structure with only vinyl umbrellas and four trees in the yard, and without using reinforcement materials, I realized such approaches were exactly what’s needed in disaster prevention measures.

location Kobe-city,Hyogo
principal use temporary shelter
date 2008
structure vinyl umbrella, vinyl code
total area 12m2

Kobe frog Caravan 2005 “Bamboo sheets” [Rokkomichi South Park (Kobe)]

This is a proposal of temporary tent housing system called“Bamboo Sheets”, that would be useful in the emergence of natural disaster for example the Hanshin (Kobe) great earthquake. In Japan we have many bamboo graves near ourselves. In addition, bed sheets, clothespins and plastic bags of convenience store are also easy to obtain. Using these very usual materials, tents for survival can be easily assembled.

A half unit is made of one bed sheet, two bamboo poles, two plastic bags and some clothespins. Two (lower & upper) half units compose one full unit. That has just a space for one person, but it doesn’t become independent only by one unit. Because an independent full unit is structurally unstable, and at the same time it doesn’t provide comfortable space. This tent system becomes completed, only after a number of families helping each other and connecting a number of units. The size of the entire tent is arranged freely according to the necessity.

The workshop was held, and we experienced the assembly actually, then staying there over night comfortably. Now we are planning to make new bamboo groves in each regional school and park, that will be a place of refuge, in preparation for a disaster in the future.

location Kobe-city, Hyogo
principal use temporary shelter
date 2005
structure bamboo, sheets, clothespin, plastic shopping bag

Minatomachi Under Ground Project

This was an art event held in a cavernous, unused underground space called Naniwa Tunnel, which slumbers beneath the city near JR Namba Station in central Osaka. Naniwa Tunnel is a long, narrow enclosure, 190 meters in length and varying in width from nine to 25 meters, which rather resembles an illustration of one-point perspective. The space, formed carelessly as a result of work on an underground railway tunnel directly beneath it, was scheduled to be repurposed as a subterranean pedestrian walkway when the surrounding environment was developed, but actually it was sealed off and left unused for nearly 10 years. By chance I came to know of its existence, and collaborated with artists on a plan to “awaken” the sleeping space with light-based installations. Takahashi Kyota generated dazzling light at the perspectival point of focus using 1,232 fluorescent tubes, and the video art unit “seesaw” and the Miyamoto team projected imagery on the floor, walls, ceiling, columns, and beams, evenly like wallpaper and devoid of meaning. The project showcased this fascinatingly deformed urban space, bringing it into the light of awareness for perhaps the first time.

location Naniwa-ku, Osaka
date 2003
Co-exhibitor Kyota Takahashi
Tetsu Kubota