Remote Aging Communities – How to Age/Live Gracefully, and Sustainably

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“… aging population is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society…”
– United Nations World Population Aging Report, 2015


Asami Takahash

Inujima is an island in the Japanese Seto Inland Sea. Shaped in plan like a dog (hence its name), it can be traversed in 15 minutes by foot. During its peak as a copper refinery site, more than 5000 people lived on this tiny island. However, today it is home to only 51 residents, most of them are elderly. The conditions facing Inu-jima are hardly unique. Small, aging and remote communities can be found across the world and it is one of the urgent issues of the aging society, and will be the subject of this studio’s study.

In 2005, Soichiro Fukutake, Executive adviser of the Benesse Coorporation, expanded the Art House project, which originated in the neighbouring Naoshima, to include Inujima. Several existing buildings (houses and factory) on the island were converted into spaces for art. The objective was to attract new visitors to the island and consequently revitalise the local economy.

Students will begin by studying existing Art/Architecture projects, as well as proposals by the previous Inujima studio. At the same time Students will be asked to examine other examples of remote, aging communities in the world and various proposals for its sustainability.

The studio will also address the notion of yoku-ikiru—what Mr. Fukutake idealises as living well—in the context of a remote, aging community.
Students will address the question of what interventions, if any, should be introduced to the island, and in what form. Students should consider economic, social and environmental issues, and the possibilities of technology to reconnect the island to a wider community.

The studio aims to eventually design and construct an intervention in the island, or have student’s projects exhibited at Art Setouchi, the Art Triennale at the islands.