This article first appeared in BTS Issue 2.

In January each year, students are free to pursue their personal interests. During this Independent Activity Period (IAP), some ASD students choose to use their skills to contribute to the world or to gain more exposure through overseas workshops such as this 10-day workshop held in Japan. It aims to examine data to better understand the utility of spaces in the city, and the spatial relationships between human actions and space.

By Mardhiany Puteri Junadi, Junior
Architecture and Sustainable Design

View from Umeda Sky Observatory in Osaka

So what has data and technology got to do with architecture? Today, everything that we do inevitably contributes to data. No matter how significant or trivial the things we use and consume are, that data can provide a deeper understanding of ourselves. Architecture
as a discipline has the responsibility of creating better environments for life. It thus makes sense for design decisions to make improvements in response to the needs, enabled by technology.

Kyoto – Collecting data of unparked bicycles

You might probably be thinking, how the hell are we supposed to tackle these big questions within 10 days? Well, the main takeaway from this workshop is just the first step in understanding human interactions with the environment – by collecting information about a place, then visualising it concisely into a map. Mapping itself can be a profound activity of representing something complex in a simple and indicative way.

Being an architecture student in SUTD equips us with the necessary digital tools to do that and, however small this may sound, exposes us to opportunities to be involved in such a collaborative project, as well as the chance of being able to interact with and observe Japanese architecture.

Kyoto – Map of illegally parked bicycles

Our short school trip brought us to so many places! An observatory building whose backstory is “a spaceship that flew away”, the interiors of restored machiya guesthouses and, of course, the art house projects on Inujima guided by the architect herself, Pritzker Laureate Kazuyo Sejima. It’s inspirational to visit a country like Japan and experience their design and culture. There’s so much to learn in this world and we should make the most
of opportunities like these (which are aplenty within SUTD).

At the Inujima Seirensho Museum – ruins of a copper refinery
Inujima A Art House – Reflectwo
Inujima C Art House – Ether
Inujima S Art House – Contact Lens
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