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loftwork 3F

Writer: Moe Fujisue
Photographer: Rakutaro Hagiwara

Hack Our City Report Part 2: — Experimental City Shibuya

In the second half of HACK OUR CITY, entitled "Experimental City Shibuya", we conducted two case studies and a workshop. In Kumiko Takano's (the editor of PARCO "ACROSS") introduction "ACROSS Fixed-Point Observation" is also introduced. Online, it is possible to view an archive containing a masterful amount of information obtained through observation of the fashion in Shibuya, Harajuku, and Shinjuku and interviews conducted every month since 1980.

Introduction - The city as a Form of Media, Created by Those who Gather there.

Kumiko Takano, Editor-in-chief of PARCO"ACROSS"

As a witness to the city, working under the ideology of "The city as a form of media, created by those who gather there." Takano says that she has noticed that recently there are an increasing number of people who do not know how to use the city. As several new systems of values are being created within the city, the power of the consumer to seek them out appears to be waning.

According to Ms. Takano, if we conceptualize this, the cut-off points of the left-most one-third (pre- "early majority") and the two-thirds on the right-hand side, (post- "late majority") on the "Innovation Curve" are striking. We are entering a time when phenomena not covered by the mass-media = small innovations occurring within the city which are not easily popularized. However, with the "left-side" value systems, the scarcer they are within one particular country, there are people, for example in Taiwan, Singapore, London, etc. who share the same value system regardless of nation. Ms. Takano began her presentation with a reexamination of the division and globalization of real communities due to the diversification of tastes and preferences, the cluster of the "Creative Class", and the city of Shibuya.

Related Link: Web Across

Shibuya Radio- Locally-Oriented x The World's Most Advanced Broadcasting Station

(Left)Tateki Nishi, Editor-in-chief, Shibuya Economic newspaper / Representative Director, Hanagata Communications International Inc. (Right)Ikuma Saga, Board of Directors Spokesperson, NPO Service Grant / Board of Directors Spokesperson, Shibuya Radio

Shibuya Radio which began broadcasting in April 2016, is beginning to rewrite the correlation chart of the Shibuya community as a super-local broadcasting station. Shibuya Radio opened through sponsorship from local businesses, and private donors, or "Founding Citizens". Each program is 55 minutes long, commercial free, and features artists and actors who have a connection to Shibuya. Not limited only to celebrities, regular local residents of Shibuya also appear as personalities on the station. Expressing that the broadcast of several 55-minute-long conversations daily, from a studio where one is able to look out upon the city while speaking, as the "Ultimate in Localization", left quite an impression.

Within the 55-minute programs, the topics can often become deep and personal, bringing the voices and words of local residents to the listeners. As Mr. Saga puts it, it is radio "not to listen to, but to participate in", with the existence of a program that allows for deep conversations acting as a catalyst to bring together individuals with a connection to Shibuya, and the forming of a community with the radio serving as a hub. Although the term "slow-moving media" has been tossed about, it is a challenge that makes you want to imagine a future in which, when you realize it, the network of key people involved has gradually expanded to create a new community.

Originally, the project began through a gathering of local people, creators, and radio-lovers. It came to be supported by a greater number of people by, using the advantage of being a locally-focused station, playing a role as disaster prevention media. Reflecting on the process of how "things which are inadequate in Shibuya", which became prevalent with the 3/11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, and "favorite things", were linked together to become the infrastructure of radio, it feels like an untapped room/space was discovered.

Related Link: Shibuya Radio

SHIBUYA HACK PROJECT - Stereotypes・Rediscover New Values by Hacking the Gap in Space.

Next, the "Shibuya Hack Project", which Loftwork inc. is currently engaging in, was introduced along with its team members. The project is being advanced on the base of a desire for expression rather than on solving specific problems. Who does this belong to? Who uses this? This project aims to find these empty gaps in the city and turn them into valuable places for expression.

Within the Shibuya Secret Club, we conducted an RPG-like inspection experiment in which guests, gathered in front of Shibuya 109, are given a book of instructions. Following these instructions, they searched for subsequent instruction manuals hidden throughout Shibuya, which eventually led them to a special secret stage on the roof of O-EAST "Fields of Shibuya". For the building owners, creators, and development personnel, etc., the future players, who were invited to participate as guests, the experiment served to allow them to see the unknown public spaces of Shibuya = blank spaces, and as an introduction to the precedent of turning roofs into fields.

Kazuo Hasegawa, Chairperson, Shibuya Dogenzaka Youth Club / Hasegawa Printing Inc.

Hasegawa, of the Shibuya Dogenzaka Youth Club has said of his dealings with the Shibuya Hack Project and of learning of the new challenges being under taken, that it, "felt as though someone whispered in my ear, ‘all these fascinating things are possible'". As current customs and personal relationships have been formed within the spaces of neighborhood associations and shop associations, there seem to be places where it is difficult to make progress regarding any new city developments. Through bringing in outside viewpoints and networks, it is possible to rouse the motivation of the local populace.

Kantaro Yamaguchi, City Creation Headquarters, Development Project Division, Project Planning Division / Shibuya Station Area Management Conference, TOKYU CORPORATION

Furthermore, Yamaguchi, of TOKYU CORPORATION spoke of his high hopes for "Shibuya", a city that can easily create diversity and innovation. You can tell he is greatly enjoying taking a step back from main conventional methods, conducting various experiments, expanding his network, and moving forward on projects. On the other hand, he seems to have realized that these current challenges are not going to instantly bring about immense change. Tokyo is currently moving forward on several projects aimed towards the Olympic Games. However the goals of Shibuya Hack Project are aimed further in the future. He says it feels as though they are using the momentum of the Olympics to speed up the process of creating the necessary components related to their goals in the city.

In an experiment in which various types of outdoor furniture was set up on areas of the road which had been closed off to traffic, the furniture was used well by children, teenage girls, and foreigners, but in contrast, many other people said they would only walk (could only walk) on the sidewalks. It was discovered that the idea that it was not safe to walk on the road was simply too firmly ingrained in people's minds. The activities conducted in experiments = irregular activities. How can we, as individuals, use our power to plan out a free city, making these irregular activities more commonplace for the general public? This is a major question connected to the Shibuya Hack Project.

Takeshi Kawano, Visual Designer

Basing his activities out of Yokohama, Takeshi Kawano, Visual Designer, may not have particularly strong ties to Shibuya, but this allows him to, along with being in charge of art direction, bring a different perspective to discussions than "people within Shibuya" with their strong connections to the area and the people within it. Things only begin to take shape through bringing together the imaginations of various people while working closely with local residents, allowing for the vision to widen. We have begun to create this cycle throughout this year.

If Dougenzaka became a place like Broadway, where a New Year's Eve countdown could be held in the street…, whispers Hasegawa. Takayuki Imaizumi,Geographer and Kawano have begun a workshop with the image of these dreams in mind.


Workshop - Making the City a Prototype "Shibuya Dream Map"

Geographer Imaizumi began drawing imaginary maps in his childhood. He is currently creating imaginary maps of "Nakamura City" of such high quality that they are indistinguishable from maps of real cities. Not just maps, but, tourism guides, bus routes, logos for local companies, bus exterior designs, a shopping center floor guide, lease plan maps, etc., all of the guides and designs for elements of the fictitious city fall under the category of the geographer's work. Even people who do not look too hard at real maps seem to become engrossed in the imaginary ones, it is enjoyable for them to be able to imagine the look of the city from their reality. Since the city only exists on the map, the answers only exist in the hearts of those who look at it. We started this workshop based on the advertisement of fantasy tugging on reality.

Participants divide into teams of 4 or 5, and tackle various challenges.

Team, "How to take a wheelchair-bound 4-year-old on a Shibuya tour".

Tour routes are drawn on a large map. With Shibuya's cone-like shape, visitors will encounter hills on every route. Is it best to find the roads with the least steep hills? To avoid the crowds? Is it best to go down a fun street that really captures the feel of Shibuya? Routes are designed with questions like these in mind.
The place to stop in to was the popular NHK Studio Park. The team that discovered a direct bus route to JR Shibuya station also had an excellent idea to finish off the tour by enjoying the view of Shibuya from the bus.

Team "Think of a unique festival for Shibuya"

An interesting idea was to pilot drones from all across the planet (and maybe some from beyond the planet?!) and have a race. Like the pod races from Star Wars, the spectators would have fun, and it would be fun to watch the excited audience. We thought of a course within the city of Shibuya.

Team "Shibuya transplant / Transplant to Shibuya"

A team expanding on the fantasy of, what if you cut out Shibuya and transplanted it into another city somewhere else in the world? What if you transplanted another city into Shibuya? For example, ideas such as, what if you took a large section of Beijing = a city not easy on pedestrians, and transplanted Shibuya there. That might make it easier for pedestrians to enjoy the city. Or, what if the Parthenon was taken from Greece and put into Yoyogi Park. The park would gain historical significance that would rival Kyoto, and Yoyogi park, where it is notoriously difficult to arrange a meeting place, would gain a landmark. The ideas are crazy, but they were very fun to ponder.

By conversing with other participants in the workshop, it was possible to gain an overall view of what resources Shibuya currently possesses, along with areas in which it is currently lacking. Mr. Kawano, the visual designer, astutely commented that, "Everybody's vision of Shibuya is completely different.", those who work in Shibuya, built Shibuya, go to have fun in Shibuya, as their goals differed, so did the view of Shibuya they saw. It was an opportunity to realize again that various up-and-coming activities are not grown from a forced common dream, but from the ground of individuals' unique feelings for Shibuya.


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