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The First C.H.C. Marvel Design Competition
Subject: Restrooms in Commercial Facilities
The subject of the First C.H.C. Marvel Design Competition was “Restrooms in Commercial Facilities”. Entry deadline was December 25, 1992. There were 106 entries and the final judging took place at our new corporate office on January 21, 1993. One First Prize (Gold), two Second Prizes (Silver) and seven Third Prizes (Bronze) were awarded. Award ceremony took place at International House of Japan in Roppongi, Tokyo, on March 9, 1993, followed by a reception for a chance to socialize. Winning entries were displayed at Architectural Institute of Japan Exhibition Hall from April 21 through 30, 1993.
Chairman/Chief Judge: Masayuki Kurokawa
Judges: Motomi Kawakami (Product Designer), Shigeru Uchida (Interior Designer), Toshihiko Ishibashi (Architect)
Gold Medal (Prize ¥1,000,000)
Hiroshi Fukumoto / Yasuko Asakura / Takenori Ogawa
Tokyo University of Art and Design molding department design subject
Silver Medals (Prize ¥300,000)
Shinichiro Yamada / Shibaura Institute of Technology graduate school
Noguchi Masakatsu / Chiyoda engineering department art vocational school
Bronze Medals (Prize ¥100,000)
Akira Murai / Miyazaki Tomonori/ Kagami Shigeru up / Hiroyuki Endo / Tekken Construction designing department)
Yasuhide Segawa (アーキショップ) / valley Junko (a dentist) / Seki Masaharu（Meiji University graduate school）
Tatsuo Kawanishi（Kyoto Prefectual University lecturer / voice of architecture）
Ippei Takehara / Kyoto Institute of Technology / industrial arts department molding engineering department
Junya Toda（A Junya Toda architecture design studio）
Sochin Kin（A money design office）
Watari Naoya / Chiba University department of engineering industrial design subject
Masayuki Kurokawa (Chairman/Chief Judge)
I suppose the purpose of this competition was to reconsider the meaning of washrooms or restrooms. It was such an exciting and enjoyable experience for all of us as judges, to decipher submitted designs to find the unique answers within. The design chosen for the Gold (by Hiroshi Fukumoto and 2 others) was the one that really lived up to my expectation, by depicting the most primitive side of toilet activities done in nature long ago. It was presented in a style of portrait to answer this question philosophically.
The solutions presented in the Silver winning designs were in contrast to the first philosophical one. The first one, by Masanori Noguchi, indicated a satirical criticism toward civilization, and the second one, by Shinichiro Yamada, featured more realistic and acceptable technology in quest for the meaning of restrooms.
The idea presented by Noguchi was very interesting since it was about facing one’s own image projected on the screen, which means to urinate on himself and to reveal his privates, and was a satirical description of the modern era. The other idea by Yamada was to extend the restroom aloft in the mid-air with an attached pool reflecting the clouds in the sky. This idea twisted the direction of natural and private toilet activities, from inward to outward, by designing it literally toward the outdoor. These three ideas each suggested their excellent and unique answers to our question in three different directions.
Shigeru Uchida (Judge)
This must have been a difficult subject by surprise. The topic, interpreted as amenity features in restrooms, only suggest its vague concept, which seemingly easy to grasp, but actually very confusing. Then I was pleasantly surprised that many submitted designs nonetheless showed the sign of deliberate considerations. Restroom is used for the activities of our bodily function. It is quite natural to take mental, physical, and practical approaches to this question, which might also lead to a social, cultural, and civilizational debate on this subject.
The idea presented by Fukumoto and 2 others, chosen for the Gold, is not to lead us into a practical design but to shed light on toilet activities using its nostalgic rendition. It is still questionable if this design is realistic and practical, but it revealed one of the most important aspects in restroom designs.
The next idea from the Silver winner Noguchi was also satirical to civilization, by simulating toilet activities using the modern technology. I was a little disappointed since there weren’t very many straight forward fixture designs submitted to this competition. I was expecting more unique and original fixture ideas to counter the wide variety of existing products out on the market today.
Motomi Kawakami (Judge)
The subject of this competition was very timely since restrooms and their amenity features are greatly discussed today. As I went through all the submitted designs, I also realized how difficult this concept was, because when I tried to come up with my own idea, I couldn’t help but becoming arbitrary in finding the right direction. We found many different approaches in the submitted designs, such as philosophical, entertaining, ironical toward civilization, or straightforward and practical. It required me to shift my way of thinking each time to understand them, but many of them unfortunately seemed shortsighted about the solution.
The winner for the Gold by Fukumoto was attractive because it was detached from the ordinary concept of restrooms and created an outside scenario in the meadows. This idea came from the college students, who must have been using their young and flexible minds. The Silver winner by Yamada was quite straightforward, by reversing the ying and yang of a restroom and taking it up to the rooftop to create a comfortable space.
Another Silver winner by Noguchi was intense and ironical as an objection to civilization, especially the idea of looking at oneself on the screen. Overall, including the Bronze winners, the young minds presented here indicated many possibilities in the future.
Toshihiko Ishibashi (Judge)
The restroom space, which is the main theme for this competition, used to be treated as subsequent to the other living spaces. The purpose of architecture is homogenized today, and office space like a living space and living space like a commercial space are appearing everywhere. No wonder the spaces within architectures have also lost their order of precedence. There were two main approaches found in the submitted designs: either architectural or instrumental. Most of them used water as a theme, where the Gold winner by Fukumoto was the best by far in presenting an idea of the nature’s calling done in nature, by setting a scene in the bushes. The Silver winner by Noguchi was in sharp contrast to the first one, with powerful illustrations in a more artificial situation. Another Silver winner, by Yamada, was to open up the restroom to the outside and the design was also executed very well. The winner for Bronze by Kasai was to incorporate the water tank in design, manipulating the space by water, and using a variety of water forms. Another Bronze winner by Murai reconsidered the core placement of the restroom to open up the space in the building which tends to be a closed environment. Also for the Bronze, by Takehara and Kim, were the two fixture designs; Kim came up with a fun idea for toilet stalls, and Takehara designed a unique sink.
All of the award winners not only indicated the clear function of the restrooms, but also were high in design quality. I wish this competition would play an important role as to change attitudes in architecture in the future.