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DISCUSSION#001:: Designing architecture, the city , media art and the next beyond the border 05
対談#001:: 建築デザイン・都市デザイン・メディア・アート・そしてこれらの境界をこえるもの 05

対談シリーズ #001

Hiroya Tanaka (Keio SFC)
Naoki Hamanaka(nest)
Kunihiko Matsuo (nest)
Jin Hidaka (udl/SLOWMEDIA/University of Tokyo)

対談 第5回(最終回)
Click here to read the part1

田中 Hiroya Tanaka(HT)
After this talk I have an image of what Soft Urbanism is, although regarding Soft Architecture (smile)… I don’t want to mix it up with digital architecture or virtual architecture that is being worked by computer graphics since the 90’s, so for me to get a clearer idea, could you please explain it again?

日高 Jin Hidaka(JH)
Currently, it is still just a video installation using images and is just a fraction of what I want to do. Anyway, urbanism has a stronger “soft” side and presents some dissociation between theory and practice. When designing architecture or a certain condition, it is unusual to design just the so-called architecture.

From the word “Soft Architecture” in itself, I have two images that come to my mind. One is virtual architecture produced by the computer. The other one is something like the CM process as an effective system taking shape of aesthetic, structural and architectural elements.

But I have the feeling that what Hidaka-san is suggesting is neither. In other words, if you are interpreted with such possible misunderstandings, things can get extremely difficult (laughs).

You’ve mentioned ‘Virtual Reality’ previously? I myself don’t have a clear picture yet, but I’m now thinking about what I should call “Real Virtuality”. The virtual world can already be pictured by everybody as an image, I guess. If this image can be materialized in a real place, it would be beautiful and much more interesting than the ‘Virtual Reality’ and could be called ‘Real Virtuality’, maybe.

I insist that it is a type of architecture and I want to build it. As it is related to the theme of building a place, it isn’t just about design but also about its execution, something we as a society should be really stuck up with. When this kind of sense of value turns into built space, in one word, is what I call Soft Architecture.

I have the feeling that the more virtual reality seeks the real, the more it looses its appeal. From now on if it shifts into real virtuality, it will turn into a world that is neither virtual nor real and that might happen in a very short period of time.

松尾 Kunihiko Matsuo(KM)
In your plan, for example in the free zones, how is Soft Architecture actually built?

Concretely, it will be related to the city structure born from the navigation system I mentioned before. I don’t have a real clear picture of it, but I know it will be different from what we have right now. How are things going to be in places different from Japan and China? In reality, the possession of territories by countries is a big thing. The concept of an area belonging to no country could result in very special new conditions.

Some problems can be solved by computer technology but others can’t be systematically solved, if we don’t put them all together in something called “soft” there is no way we can translate them into architecture. This is an interesting point and this is the part related to computer technology. I don’t yet understand it, but it feels like if we don’t set up certain conditions we won’t be able to create new things.

I agree with that. Because one condition is not set up, we can’t communicate with other people. We can talk about things, but we won’t be understood.

There are things that we still feel like science fictions, but I think what important is ‘Reality’ that we can really experience with our senses and that doesn’t exist in science fictions. City is an ambiguous word, so I know the feeling you can imagine soft urbanism but you cannot with soft architecture, but for me it doesn’t matter any more. I feel thet the border between architecture and the city is not so concrete any more. We have to imagine things with more phisical reality.

At firtst we have to set up some conditions as a fiction, then we need a power to make things into reality. Maybe it is good that there are people trying to do it. Maybe it is something necessary in Japan today.

In my present situation, I’m unable to specialize in the technology part only, so let’s consider there are still limits to GPS, still the idea of changes in the concept of possession is quite interesting. But as land and places are part of these coordinates, maybe they can’t be used as our targets. In this way I think we can’t yet completely measure it with digital cameras and GPS.

I understand that. I have the feeling that the world will be soon divided into two extremes. People working within the real state system and those who don’t care about it. I suppose the number of those who still dream about their “own home” is decreasing, but I don’t believe that the housing industry will disappear any time soon. That’s why I believe in the polarization into one of the two groups. Even in big cities, there are still the little old women, or people who stay all day inside their homes. This is the difficult part about cities.

濱中 Naoki Hamanaka(NH)
If we consider people who are used to spending about 13 hours flying around, the time they spent on transportation is longer than what they spend in their cities or at home… but we can’t just think that way. Maybe we should think about people just moving around. Do you think there will be more people just “moving around” from now on?


The population decreasing… Regarding forms of ownership and sense of value, maybe the concept of what is being rich might also change. Is it retiring in your own little room really happiness? Traditionally, Japan was built on a quite extreme sense of property, but this might change radically too. It is just too excessive now. I think this might also bring some changes into the city. I don’t mean that things must become miserable, but there might be some change anyway.

You mean money, the economy included?

Capitalism won’t change, but inside capitalism there will be a change in the way of thinking. In the general sense of value, other things besides money may become valuable as well. Today the value regarding space is replaced by money, but I think the system based on our sense of value is ambiguous and could be easily changed.

If you have 70 million yen today you can choose to buy yourself a small house in Tokyo or spend it somewhere else. The money value will be the same but if your own sense of value changes, so can your decision. If things go this way, Tokyo can also start changing and this is a real possibility.

We are living a “ubiquitous bubble” time, so if we look at the city there are still good chances to make really interesting proposals. The interesting thing about “ubiquitous” is that computers are already part of the city’s infrastructure and that we are able to use it outdoors as well.

This is a good thing… I also would like to take out Soft Architecture as it is today, but I’m afraid it would end up limited into dark areas. If I manage to take it to Okinawa and produce media-art in that kind of light, it would be quite different. This is a bit different from “ubiquitous” though.

Finally, if we summarize today’s talk it really feels that we are creating a new “design field”.

Yes, but what kind of design field it will become?

I don’t know, just a design field like this!

(the talk still went on, but the arguments were long and the recording video tape space full so we have to interrupt here. The continuation will take place sometime in the future, somewhere.)