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From urban planning to furniture design, architect Daisuke Sugawara traverses the scale of manufacturing



A circle of friends connected by gut touch! The “FIST BUMP” corner of the radio program “GRAND MARQUEE” features people who live and enjoy Tokyo in a relay format.

On September 5, architect Daisuke Sugawara will appear. For this issue, we asked Mr. Sugawara, who is involved not only in architecture but also in urban development, about his urban development projects, their appeal, and the origins of his own craftsmanship.

The best part of my job is that I am designing something that will last longer than my own lifespan

Celeina (MC): This is Daisuke Sugawara, an architect, introduced by yesterday’s bricklayer, Toshihiko Takayama. Pleased to meet you.

Sugawara: My name is Sugawara, nice to meet you.

Celeina: Let me start by introducing his profile. Daisuke Sugawara was born in Tokyo in 1977. He established Daisuke Sugawara Architects in 2007 after working for architectural firms in Japan and France, where he was in charge of projects in 22 cities in 10 countries. His activities range from Louis Vuitton to community revitalization.

Takano (MC): You must be very busy being active around the world.

Sugawara: When I hear all this, it sounds like that, but I am just an ordinary man.

Celeina: No, no.

Takano: But he seems very approachable and easy to talk to. Mr. Sugawara is such a person, and yesterday Mr. Takayama gave me a very good word for him “a person who acts like an adhesive”. Is this the image of a project that brings people together?

Sugawara: Well, he gave me a great title, and I wondered how I should talk about it, but I think what you are probably referring to is my urban development. I am an architect, but I have done quite a lot of urban development work, including three particularly large projects in Shimane Prefecture, Yamanakako Village in Yamanashi Prefecture, and Gojome Town in Akita Prefecture.

The use and function of a building are usually fixed, but when it comes to a town, we have to take into account the feelings of the people who live there. Also, the landscape and climate there are different and unique, and the history and culture, including festivals, must be connected to create the framework for the next 100, 200, or even thousands of years of town building.

Takano: It is true that a town is equal to the people, or rather, it is about the people who live there.

Sugawara: Well, even within a town, the people who live there have many different ways of thinking and are of various ages, so it is quite difficult to decide on a single thing. Even so, in the process of town planning, it is necessary to finally decide on a single road or building, so we naturally conduct academic research at the same time, but we also talk about our feelings, drink together, participate in festivals, and see how we can find a keyword that will connect everyone, or the shape of the town. I think that’s what I’m doing.

Takano: The three projects you are working on now may be difficult, but how would you briefly describe each of them?

Sugawara: They are all very interesting, and I could talk for hours if I started, but to put it simply, the town of Oki no Shima in Shimane Prefecture is an island, so of course it has a port, and we are building a 30,000 square meter area around the port over a period of 10 years, gradually building a dialogue with the town people. The project is to create a new transportation hub, or rather, a center for commerce and transportation.

Actually, I participated in a festival in Yamanakako Village yesterday and just drove back today, but since it is in the mountains, bus transportation is basically the main transportation in that town. So we are working on how to revitalize the town and create a new circulation system while developing a bus stop and community center together.

In Gojome Town in Akita Prefecture, a town that recently suffered from a rain disaster, there is a sake brewery that has been in operation for 333 years, and the brewery owner, Mr. Koei Watanabe, is a very ambitious person. We are currently designing a production line for the brewery, and we are also working on a project to open up the surplus warehouse site when the production line is changed and turn it into a place for festivals and events to revitalize the town. The common thread in all three projects is that we have not yet decided what we are going to make, and we are working on it together, starting from what to make. I think this is a little different from ordinary projects.

Celeina: I see.

Takano: But the town of Oki no Shima in Shimane Prefecture was mentioned in terms of 10 years, and the scale is the same, but the scale in terms of time is also amazing.

Sugawara: That’s right. That is one of the most interesting aspects of architecture and town planning. The fact that we are designing something that will last longer than our own lifespan is the best part of our work, but I am always worried that we won’t be told for hundreds of years that our work was not good enough.

Takano: So there is pressure that only you, Mr. Sugawara, can handle.

Sugawara: That’s right.

Takano: But can I ask you a question? For example, you think about words and other things while imagining what it will be like 10 years, 20 years, or even 100 years from now. How do you get hints?

Sugawara: I always have trouble with that, but I think it’s important to drink a lot with the people of the town, go out, participate in festivals, and become a part of the community.

Takano: Blend in.

Sugawara: It is important to blend in, and there is one more thing. The changes from the past to the present can actually lead to the prediction of future changes.

Takano: Interesting. If you know the past, you can predict the future.

Sugawara: It’s like a proverb, but I often think that’s pretty much the essence of it when I’m working these days.

Takano:But the locations are all over the place. I think it must be very difficult to move from one place to another.

Sugawara: I was born in Asakusa, Tokyo, but because I was born in the city, I don’t have what you might call a “hometown” where I feel at home. So, as I build towns in various cities, I feel as if I am a child, and I am enjoying the fact that my second hometown is growing rapidly.

Celeina: That’s nice.

Takano: That’s a wonderful story. I’d like to hear more, but let’s interrupt for a song here. I asked Mr. Sugawara to choose a song he would like everyone to listen to on the radio at this time. What song would it be?

Sugawara: First of all, I chose a song that I hope will cheer everyone up during the daytime, and also a song that is a bit connected to work.

Takano: Please introduce the song.

Sugawara: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, please.



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