Yasushi Noguchi Projects Installations, Public Projects, Software, Photos etc.

Compact Life Project
Field Art 008

Installation View


This project is a process of traveling around the question “What is the minimum life that human beings can live with dignity?”

Although it has been five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, one thing still makes me anxious. After the power failure of the nuclear plant accident caused by the earthquake, energy issues had widely been discussed and people seemed to reconsider the mass consumption of energy. There were many companies and individuals who are trying to save energy by restricting lighting and air conditioning, and it seemed that Japan would become to “energy saving society”. However now, it seems that most people have forgotten about the idea of energy saving and have returned to the consumption society before the earthquake. I am surprised by how easily it has been getting back to our old ways.

On the other hand, I have frequently visited Kenya in anthropology surveys since 2009, and as a part of that investigation, I visited Nairobi slums such as Kibera for several times. About 3 x 3 m square house is common, and in some cases, more than five family members have been living in this space. In such a housing environment, they have managed to create a “comfortable” space. Anthropologist Motoji Matsuda, in his book “Taming the city”, depicted the toughness of people living in the slum, and I myself had the same impression. It is now difficult to find a similar lifestyle in highly urbanized Japan.
From these experiences, I was curious that “how can people live happily with minimal living?”

For this reason, I have also been interested in Tiny House Movement originated in the United States. After the Lehman shock, this movement that was born to practice “simple life” by reconsidering the life that is tied to a mortgage for a long time in order to keep a luxury house. Certainly, a tiny house does not waste building materials and utilities costs, and it is less burdensome to the environment and costs less money. In Japan after the disaster, there have been something similar to this idea. When I had a research, I found out that there are people living in tiny house in Japan too, and among them I was curious about a young man setting up a small hut at Kujukuri Beach in Chiba and living alone. In his case, he is simply motivated to try making a hut. He has enough income as a programmer, and effectively uses modern infrastructure such as convenience stores and public facilities. It is an impression that he lives comfortably.

Meanwhile, I am interested in collective house which has spread from Sweden and Denmark to other countries in recent years. Collective house is a moderate community with shared space such as kitchen and living room in a building with each living space. There are various reasons why they live in the collective house. For example, in urban areas it is necessary for people who live alone to be connected with the community for avoiding to become isolated. There are also couples who think that it is meaningful to interact with many people for children in early childhood in terms of acquiring sociality. It seems that these movements are a big theme as to how to live comfortably in the overcrowded urban environment. Modern people will be able to say that it is time to live compactly worldwide.

Of course, the act of living is not so simple. Of course, the slum residents are not satisfied with their spaces, but they want to live in a larger house someday. Also, in Sweden’s case, I do not know that the inhabitants are really satisfied with their communities.
It seems that the size of the physical space is not so related to their “happiness”. The feeling of happiness by living in a house will depend on the community in which the house is located and how the relationship with neighbors is established.

In this project, I will observe the lives of people who live compactly in different environments where Kenya, Japan and Sweden.