discover

Twilight on a department store roof garden. French fantasy meets function.

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新宿の丸井のデパートの屋上庭園は、フランスのファンタジーみたいです。仲が良さそうな若いカップルが多いです。

I love the contrived fantasy of Marui’s Shinjuku roof garden. It’s a large space, with many formal French elements like precise mini-hedges, various arbors, lush borders, and various seating options. At twilight, the lights come on, and I love the mix of formal garden with functional elements like heating and cooling systems, barbed wire for safety, and views of additional Marui building signage and the blank, almost windowless Docomo tower. The photos make it seem empty, but in fact local teens have already discovered this hidden, semi-public space.

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Trees add life to bleak cityscape

後ろにあるこの高い木には、はじけるような命を感じます。ところが、前にある駐車場や自動販売機やマンションは暗いですね。

These tall trees in the background provide a burst of life in a bleak cityscape of apartments, vending machines, and surface parking lots.

Dahlia reminds me of San Francisco

植物や花も記憶を呼び起こします。ダリアはサンフランシスコ市の花です。

Plants and especially flowers trigger memories. Recently lilacs were blooming in Tokyo, and it reminded me of childhood and my grandmother who was a garden hobbyist in Maryland. I tweeted about it, and heard from a friend about the memories she has of a lilac bush by a childhood bedroom. Seeing hostas in my in-laws’ garden reminds me of the suburban neighborhood of my childhood. Japanese maples, azaleas, rhododendrons, and anemone evoke a Tea Trade era of Anglophilic commerce and class in the United States’ Northeast and mid-Atlantic.

Dahlias remind me of San Francisco, where it is the city flower. I love the huge variety and outrageous colors. And its interesting history of being first discovered in Mexico and then bred in the Netherlands. This red and white specimen was exquisite when I bought it and for another week. The number of blooms and buds was astounding. Not surprisingly, two weeks after buying this dahlia, the remaining buds refuse to open and I wonder if the plant will live even one more month.

I bought this plant at Shimachu, a large home center. Their plants always seems pumped up for sale. Unfortunately because of the proximity to my apartment (very bike-able) and low prices, I often buy from there. It’s a guilty pleasure similar to eating fast food.

Guest post: úti, a mobile game to discover nature

Frequently I hear from urban planners, professors, students, and green city people from around the world who want to share their projects or meet people in my network. I encourage them to create a guest blog post. Below is a French student project that turns urban or rural nature discovery into a video game. It sounds creative and fun! The makers will be at Tokyo’s Miraikan this week to talk about it. And, if you would like to share your project, please send in a guest blog post! [Editor]

Can nature be the playground of a video game? Interested in this idea, five students in digital design and production from Gobelins, l’école de l’image, Paris, worked for nine months on a common graduation project named úti (Icelandic for “outdoor”). By addressing the discovery of nature using a game, the team, composed of three graphic designers and two developers, wishes to approach a young audience.

The concept is simple: put in the shoes of a explorer, the player starts exploring the nature that surrounds him, be it a green space downtown, or a forest in the countryside.

The game is composed of a mobile application, which uses GPS to record the walking path and provide the player with contextual activities: discover nearby points of interest, identify tree species, take part in collaborative timelapse animations by taking photos…

Back home, the player can visualize the territory he explored and the species he identified, by connecting to his base camp on úti website.

úti will be showcased at the Digital Content Expo, in the Miraikan, from tomorrow to Sunday. You will be able to test the mobile application and meet the team at the “Futur en Seine” stand (1F).

They are looking for partners and investors, so if you are interested in supporting the project, please contact the team at contact@projet-uti.com

More info on the Digital Content Expo website: http://www.dcexpo.jp/en/programs/futurenseine/

Visit úti website for video demos: http://www.projet-uti.com