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Place in Fiction: Follies of Fiction for the Hidden

Part 2 Project 2021
Gie Eng (Ivanka) Teh
University of Strathclyde | UK
This project draws from a study of Haruki Murakami's 1985 novel 'Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World', and its fictionalised critique of modern Japan’s business (counter-)culture. It focuses on the phenomenon of young, socially-alienated individuals known as the hikikomori, unable or unwilling to fit into a productivity-oriented society, the appearance of which Murakami eloquently recorded.

Since the burst of the economic bubble in the late 1980s and the subsequent stagnation, cultural expectations and shaming have exacerbated social and spatial alienation of this hidden community. Confined to a limited topography of pachinko parlours, konbini stores and micro-dwellings around the Shibuya district of Tokyo, hikikomori seems to be a generation of unlikely outcasts, despite living at the centre of a global metropolis.

In response to this, the project proposes seven architectural follies in a fictionalised Tokyo, looking to create a constellation of gaps in the hyper-utilitarian universe of the city. Drawn out in correspondence with Murakami’s characters, narrative structure and the plot, the follies offer a set of ‘useless’, un-programmable spaces that through mere exposure and tectonic composition invite possibility of connecting the hikikomori with the broader society, while raising questions about architecture’s responsibility to communities that resist ‘treadmill’ Capitalism

Gie Eng (Ivanka) Teh

Piotr Lesniak
Gordon Murray
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