Site: Inujima, Japan
“On June 11th, Kazuyo Sejima will come to the island and will give guidance about Inujima in the morning. When will Viray-san and students from SUTD come to Inujima island? … It is a project to think about ‘new way of life’ in the landscape of Inujima.”
This studio began with an email from Kazuyo Sejima, inviting SUTD to participate in an ongoing project of hers on Inujima. The email informed us when we should visit the island and what we will do upon arrival. However, it did not provide any semblance of a brief, nor details about how we should contribute to the project. While appearing vague on first reading, we suspected that the email was in fact, carefully worded. By not being prescriptive, it gave us the freedom to contemplate this question of a new way of life. We decided to respond by imagining future scenarios for Inujima, and hoped to contribute fresh perspectives through a diverse set of projects.
We adopted an exploratory approach in this studio. Students were not given a specific problem or architectural typology to address. Instead, they were asked to identify issues of interest, define the scope of their project, and develop proposals only after they had visited the island. The studio stayed on Inujima for 4 days and took part in the Life Garden workshop. Alongside architecture students from Japanese universities, we helped to prepare new grounds for planting, as well as lay a new SUTD Inujima stone path. In their spare time, students documented the town and island, and interacted with its residents. This extended period of stay sensitised students to the scale and texture of the built and natural landscape, as well as the island’s daily rhythms and culture. Through this experience, they constructed an understanding of Inujima, which would help inform their subsequent proposals.