ACADEMIC: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY GSAPP TOKYO BAY MICROCITY STUDIO
NANAKO UMEMOTO & MICHAEL OVERBY
STATUS: LUCILLE SMYSER LOWENFISH MEMORIAL PRIZE
We live in an epoch where we are willing as a society to renounce aspects of freedom for “greater” safety, this irony is reflected in narrative of the project. The airport-city acts as a criticism to the paranoia created by the fear of terror and the effects of increasing surveillance on our life. Paranoicity is situated in Tokyo, Japan, on the site of Haneda Airport. The proposal presents both utopian and dystopian aspects. The first impression of the city is a utopia, as it loosens the boundaries between airport and city. Contrary to the hermetic nature of the airport as we know it, Paranoicity offers a completely porous system; people are able to move in and out of the city at all times, catalyzing cultural, social, and economic exchange. Hidden behind this apparent system is the dystopian aspect of the project, which deals with safety by establishing the protocol of surveillance similar to the one of the Panopticon. The citizens of the city are perpetually monitored without being aware of it. The architecture serves as the mechanism of control. The city is a machine composed of different parts that perform as the compartments of a submarine,if something goes wrong, the sectors of the city are able to shut down or unplug,thus containing any threat. The proposal tries to redefine the plug- in city not just by offering a flexible infrastructure; rather it gives the “parts” a role in controlling the security of Paranoicity. The design of the city is based on a layering system of continuous surfaces, allowing its inhabitants to navigate it in different ways. Between these layers is a rail system that allows massive machine-like plug-in units to slide across the city. These large city components are able to plug in and out allowing people to be connected throughout its various city layers. The central core of these plug-in machines acts as a control point for surveillance.The studio also focused on the idea of the irreducible living unit. The design of the basic living unit works with a similar logic to the city as a whole, the unit is entirely made of a kit of parts. These parts can be combined to personalize the unit allowing for mass customization.