Construction sites are so everywhere, no big deal. Now in Japan, the walls in front of them are often white (sometimes lovingly decorated with flowers) and are called karikakoi. And with constant restructuring and redevelopment going on in Tokyo since decades, these ubiquitous walls are invading the urban landscape as long and giant blanks. However, recently, several interesting projects have started to beautify these surfaces by using them as canvases for artful illustrations and paintings. PingMag picks up a few for you today!
Written by Ayana
Translated by Yuki Sakai
1. Artful Illustrations
A karikakoi surrounding the construction site for a Hiroo apartment development was chosen to draw a landscape of four seasons withplenty of animals. In 2006, illustrator Yukari Miyagi completed her art works on the wall measuring a proper 324 meters in length! Her joyful drawings, with their soft colour shades, seem to blend into the urban landscape perfectly. This karikakoi was the canvas for an enjoyable dreamy space while the construction lasted. Although it was detached afterwards, you can now experience these art works in her photo book Town Dream – Dream Town.
2. Making The Process Of Construction Transparent
SOUP DESIGN and constructors TAISEI DESIGN worked on a wall entitled “DIARY” around a building construction site in Ginza. There, they separated left-over construction materials and displayed them in glass cases, to make the construction process visible. In addition, info about the type and quantity of the materials used are displayed. Needless to say, the segregated materials will certainly be recycled later on.
In case you forget – a big sized recycling symbol painted on the wall, stands as a reminder. Image courtesy of Tokyo Curry Bancho/Tokyo splendid sight-seeing
More left-over construction materials on display. Nice idea! Image courtesy of Tokyo Curry Bancho/Tokyo splendid sight-seeing
3. Expressing a City’s Identity
Redevelopment has been going on basically everywhere in Tokyo for decades. And though these long construction periods usually give the impression of blank spots in the cityscape, they can also serve to get people thinking about the future of the city. In the following, we are showing you three karikakoi walls in three districts that are used as media to express the city’s identity through its inhabitants by using portraits of people who are involved in working in or for the city.
1) Shinjuku Southern Beat Project
Just around the corner of Shinjuku Station south exit, you can find another giant karikakoi wall measuring around 320 meters in length, in front of the construction site for Route 20. Since its completion is due by 2016, passers-by would get pretty bored to see just a simple white wall until then… Meanwhile, launched in 2005, the Shinjuku Southern Beat Project by STUDIO HAN DESIGN has been using the construction fence in an interactive way: It involves staff of the construction site and the local inhabitants to display graphics, photos and the lighting-up according to a different theme given every year.
Portraits of the locals created by the “Shinjuku Southern Beat Project” in 2006. Photo by momoko japan
Different coloured lighting illuminates the pedestrians: “Shinjuku Southern Beat Project” in 2007. Photo by momoko japan
2) Hikifune-ga (Image of Hikifune)
When travelling to Tokyo’s East side, you can find a karikakoi wall entitled Hikifune-ga in front of Hikifune station, Sumida. Launched in 2006, this intervention was the idea of the Urban Renaissance Agency and STUDIO HAN DESIGN who also designed for above mentioned “Shinjuku Southern Beat Project.” The project depicts local life with imagery and texts to remind you of the old quarter’s unique flair. In addition, the lighting in nine colour variations seem to help crime prevention during night time when it’s less crowded. Local residents are happy with it, saying “The landscape has become brighter!”
3) Nihonbashi Then and Now – Bridging Edo and the Contemporary
Now in Nihonbashi, Chuo, there have been efforts to restore the historical “Nihonbashi” site – the bridge built during the Edo period. As part of the redevelopment, the installation entitled Nihonbashi then and now – the bridge between Edo and the future is displayed on walls facing four streets, surrounding the demolishing site for the Mitsui annex No. 3 basement. On each of the walls’ surfaces, you can see drawings and photos of the area from during the Edo, Meiji/Taisho and Showa periods, as well as images of a future Nihonbashi as drawn by local elementary students. Walking along these walls takes long enough to learn a bit about the historical neighbourhood and see how kid’s imagine the future site.
If you happen to stroll along any interesting looking construction fences, let us know for sure!