Cult of Fertility
SPECULATIVE DESIGN PROPOSAL for a COMMUNITY BIRTH CLINIC in KAMOGAWA, JAPAN
A new place for conception, birth, day care, and bonding,
for making citrus gift fruit and artisanal rice porridge
GSD / 2016
Academic Studio work under Atelier Bow Wow
As cities in Japan densify, women in Tokyo are under increasing stress, increasingly choosing not to have children. In parallel, rural areas like neighboring Kamogawa are increasingly emptied, leaving their elderly residents increasingly isolated. This design proposes linking these dynamics to better serve both populations. Drawing on the techniques of ohmotenashi and tree grafting, an empty farmhouse in Kamogawa is converted into a quiet respite where young women from Tokyo can stay to conceive, gestate, or give birth as well as a gathering space for local elders who help care for new mums. Gentle agricultural and processing activity for rice porridge baby food and gift citrus mingles in the spaces of the center, connecting visitors with the fecundity of the land's traditional terrace farming and supporting the center with sales of high quality goods to young moms back in Tokyo
1. DEEPEN EMOTIONAL AND SPIRTUAL DIMENSIONS OF AN ARCHITECTURE OF FERTILITY
While the economic, political, and public health dimensions of fertility have pressing implications for Japan’s future, I chose to focus on the emotional and spiritual dimensions of the problem for two reasons:
A. Academic Experimentation
I think emotional and spiritual concerns are the foundation of a holistic understanding of fertility, and often the most elusive to address amidst all the competing demands of a given architecture project. I have found it particularly difficult to allocate resources to these important issues in professional building projects, and therefore all the more valuable to gain a better foothold through a school project.
B. Research at a Distance
While from the other side of the world, it was difficult to deepen our research into the complex dynamics on the ground in Kamogawa and Tokyo after visiting in February, there is a universal quality of emotional and spiritual response relative to the specificity of economic or public health facts. Focusing on the emotional texture of the problem made it possible to continue research locally in Boston in a more meaningful way, by engaging directly with people in my community here as my design proposition developed.
2. DEVELOP PROJECT THROUGH PHYSICAL MODEL AND RITUAL MOMENTS
Given the focus on emotional and spiritual aspects of fertility together with the studio’s focus on Latour’s Actor Network Theory, I chose to design through physical model and ritual moments for two reasons:
A. Bottom-Up Ecosystem of Design Considerations
Developing my project through models and moments, physical moments in the actor network and the proposed building as well as ritual moments repeated in time enabled me to listen closely to each actor in my design on its own terms, cultivating an organic, bottom-up understanding of the ecosystem of actors shaping this disconnection in fertility and how it can be bridged through new architecture
B. Precision without Instrumentalization
I accept the bias and limitation that no one can ever stabilize a complete picture of system without violently reducing vital nuance and stripping the very agency and autonomy we seek from the system’s actors that we seek to understand in this project. As such, I worked through relatively sovereign moments in order to hone precise knowledge of the actors and attempt to build an integrated, comprehensive architectural proposition without needing to first falsely stabilize an integrated, comprehensive map of the system context. I tried to address the complexity of the actor network and the necessity of intgrated resolution in architecture without having to instrumentalize the actors or Latour’s Actor Network Theory in service to a single top-down point of view of the broader dynamics.
Actor Network Before :
Actor Network After :
How might architecture help cultivate fertility holistically,
bridging root disconnections between people, our bodies, and the cycles of life ?