I want to acquire the skills, necessary to lead a carefree life in the city. I also would like to lead a life in which I could determine what I should do each day while giving thought to the weather and other natural phenomena. How nice it would be to be immersed in a life like that. When I felt a yawn, I’d like to be able to look up and watch clouds drifting across the sky. As we go about our daily lives, we’ve already begun to yearn just to be able to breathe the fresh air outside. We no longer want to scurry about in confusion while being bombarded with information about material things. Recently we’ve begun hearing screams from rooms about to collapse under the sheer weight of the furniture and other items cluttering them.
Isn’t there some way we can avoid the merciless pressure of other people’s disdainful gazes as we take in the fresh outside air? In the first place, people’s stares rudely infringe on the privacy of individuals. It is instructive that in the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that devastated Kobe, many evacuees secured temporary privacy on the school grounds where they had taken refuge by immediately pitching pup tents made of blue vinyl sheeting. Human beings seem to instinctively build roofs, walls and floors as circumstances demand. The quake awakened the latent capacity of the evacuees to live as nomads live.
Living in fixed homes, a way of life brought about by people practicing fixed agriculture, compels individuals to place great value on real estate. Indeed, securing a place to live has become so difficult that the value of real estate has even taken on the aura of myth. City dwellers have been conditioned to accept this situation. But now, even among them, there have begun to appear individuals who, opting to live like nomads, have discovered a more attractive value in their interaction with nature than in their material wealth. Because they’re so easy to move, temporary abodes such as the tent or the yurt have begun to attract the attention of people who live in modern urban dwellings.
Features associated with the portable abodes of nomadic people are also lurking in this city dwelling whose roof consists of canvas stretched over a supporting framework. The occupant of this tent-like house happens to be an expert on temporary dwellings. So we can say that he is conducting a study using himself as guinea pig. The interior feels akin to the inside of a parked car - an awkward place to live, indeed. The awkwardness seems to come from the fear that your right to privacy may be violated, a fear caused by the translucency of the roof. But once you get used to it, the vague feeling produced by the light penetrating through the thin sheet overhead turns out to be rather comforting.
Even if we were to turn this house inside out, as we could a piece of clothing, its expression as a budding probably wouldn’t change. And since one feels like one is living outdoors even when, in fact, living indoors, you’ll never find yourself inadvertently looking out the window. The spatial continuity that permit; light from outside to reach every nook and cranny of the house remains in effect even after sunset. A Single 60-watt light bulb is all it takes to keep the entire house lit. A beautiful exterior night view is created when the roof is lit and assumes the appearance of a paper-covered lantern, thereby conveying the warm fanny life of those inside. Such a view could bye birth to a new scene of nostalgia - replacing the one made up of utility poles. In fact, this small home suggests many new possibilities for urban dwellings. The urban metamorphosis will be accelerated by the accumulation of similar small units and the expression of the nomadic spirit of the people.
Text by Hiroshi Innami 1995/3