07 Mar 2013 • Kanae Hasegawa
House Vision Exhibition: Kenya Hara
Graphic designer and curator Kenya Hara is the Exhibition Director of the House Vision 2013 Tokyo Exhibition, which runs this month. Hara believes in the possibility of high-tech housing taking over Tokyo, and visitors to the House Vision exhibition can assess eight life-size models of dwellings that he says meet the demands of Japan’s next generation. Kanae Hasegawa spoke to Hara about his vision for Tokyo living.
What is House Vision?
Kenya Hara: It is a platform for exploring ways of urban living within a new mind-set. In this time of uncertainty, especially so in Japan, the designer’s role is to envision an invisible future. Japan has been at the forefront in the manufacture of vehicles, home appliances and home electronics, but the country’s dominant position in these fields will soon be part of a bygone era. Japan can compete only by integrating its electronic products into a network system. Thanks to smart grid technology, which enables the advanced digital control of utilities and mechanical systems, individual electronic products can be integrated into a larger network: the house. The house, as a unit, will operate as a huge, autonomous electrical appliance.
To explore this vision, I’ve collected a group of experts that includes urban planners, developers, contractors and architects, as well as organizations like telecom and gas corporations, whose customers range from the medical industry to convenience stores.
So, how smart can the house of the future be?
K.H.: It will be a powerhouse. It will have solar cells that produce electricity via a system that is monitored to ensure efficiency. This system will also power your electric car. The technology already exists. With a life-logging device, you can track how many times the refrigerator has been opened. The same device can collect data and send it to a medical firm that monitors your health.
Who are you targeting?
K.H.: We call our target group the ‘early adaptors’ – we predict that about 16 per cent of the Japanese population will be using these new technologies within the foreseeable future.
You paint a convincing picture, but does Tokyo have enough room for the realization of your vision?
K.H.: Our idea is based on the retrofit and infill of existing apartments between 30 and 40 years old, housing built in vast numbers during the most recent period of population growth in Tokyo. We would leave the outer shells of these buildings intact and provide them with brand-new, high-tech interiors.
House Vision 2013 Tokyo Exhibition runs until 24 March.
If Tokyo is too far a commute (or you're merely hungry for more inventive housing), check out the Radical Living feature in Frame #91 - featuring 6 next-generation homes from Japan, Belgium, China, Australia and and Korea.