Explore the City with Malte 2: Future Kids
Kashiwa Children City Planning Conference #2
Children are amazing! This time, I joined the Kashiwa children urban development conference, organized from Vivistop in Kashiwa-no-ha. We adults teamed up with a bunch of elementary school kids, exploring the area around Kashiwa station, discussing the future of technology, and building a future model of the city center. Just because we are adults doesn’t mean there aren’t many things children can teach still teach us.
We met up in the morning and began with a tour around the city center, guided by an intern from Vivistop. A 4th-year undergraduate student majoring in architecture taught the kids and me about the history of development in the area and how it shaped the present. Did you know that most of the area around the station is at least around 50 years old? In most European countries that might not be considered old, but we also don’t have earthquakes. For a city in Japan, it is likely time for a bit by bit renewal.
Small quizzes during the tour engaged everyone’s spirits, and I think the kids know a lot more about the area than me. But hey, no need to feel ashamed. Learning is a lifelong journey and it is not important to know everything, just never stop being interested.
Returning back to the basecamp, everyone gathered around a chart showing a timeline of emerging technologies: Self-driving and flying cars, energy efficient fusion reactors, super-intelligent AI, and space elevators. A very engaged discussion started, and the kids once more proved to be pretty knowledgable, sometimes even knowing more about certain topics than we older folks. Children’s ability to remember stuff is really awesome. I should have paid more attention when I was younger. Being too lazy just doesn’t pay off.
The children were asked to write about their own future and the future of the city in 10, 20, and 30 years time. And they had almost too much to write about.
Based on their comments, the areas around Kashiwa station was divided into different development areas (Zoning). The next step was to visualize all the zones by building a model of the city using a variety of tools and materials: Cardboard boxes, pieces of cable, formable foam, colored paper, etc.
I was asked to participate as well and build something for the traditional shopping street. Having absolutely no confidence in my handcraft skills, I was reluctant at first. Seeing all the kids creatively handling the materials though, kickstarted my motivation. My masterpiece of a model is the extremely small blue building, somewhere in the pictures below (maybe too small to spot even).
We only had roughly two hours to build as much as possible, so we couldn’t quite finish the whole project. Until 2030 Kashiwa seems to get a big shopping mall with access for flying cars from the roof, an area centered around beauty with public pool, a gigantic zombie theme park, new living areas, and the above-mentioned shopping street with traditional Japanese establishments.
I really enjoyed the time. Learning about the history of the area, how it is connected to the present and how possible developments in technology may shape the future. At the same time, I was fascinated with the creativity of the participating kids. In the end, it is children building the bridge from the past to the present, into the future.
To take a look at the finished version of the city mode, visit the Kamon Kashiwa Information Center in July.