Next Nature

The City as Technology in Tokyo

Cities might be the most advanced technology mankind has produced so far. A decade ago the tipping point was reached when more people lived in urban environments than in non-urban ones. But are cities in their current form really the future of the human habitat? What is a next nature version of the city and how would it look like? In line with this perspective, NNN designer Hendrik-Jan Grievink led two workshops in Tokyo, Japan.

The Pyramid of Technology concept facilitated the exploration on various levels, making use of ‘design probes’: rapidly prototyped thought-provoking objects that convey an idea or a design concept. What worked really well, was that the design probes were generated as some kind of materialized, conceptual answers to the concrete questions from the 70 question cards in the Pyramid of Technology toolkit.

Among the results from the workshop, we’d like to share the concept developed by Nicole Jansen who envisioned a new destination for the Yamanote Line, one of Tokyo’s most important subway lines. She would transform it into an underground capsule city for office workers. In this scenario, commuting would be an unnecessary activity replaced by a lifestyle that is facilitated through a modular system of living pods and plug-in facilities. This concept originated from the observation that the amount of people passing through Tokyo’s subway system is so large that the city could never accommodate their needs in case they would all come above ground at the same time (for example, during an earthquake or a flood).

Building design probes based on questions from the Pyramid of Technology toolkit and arranging them on the Pyramid of Technology to inquire new patterns of meaning.

The workshop was part of the Summer Sessions, a mobile summer school program organized by GDA (Graphic Design Arnhem of ArtEZ University of the Arts), a four year BA program in graphic design where Hendrik-Jan Grievink teaches design research.

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