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The Third C.H.C. Marvel Design Competition
Subject: A kitchen that Connects Three Generations
The subject of the Third C.H.C. Marvel Design Competition was “A kitchen that Connects Three Generations”. Entry deadline was June 30, 1995. There were over 240 entries and the final judging took place at our new corporate office on July 25, 1995. One First Prize (Gold), two Second Prizes (Silver) and six Third Prizes (Bronze) were awarded. Award ceremony took place at International House of Japan in Roppongi, Tokyo, on October 3, 1995, followed by a reception for a chance to socialize.
More information>> (link to the 3rd Competition details)
Chairman/Chief Judge: Masako Hayashi
Judges: Masako Sone (Product Designer), Toshihiko Ishibashi (Architect), Takuzo Baba (Coordinator)
Gold Medal (Prize ¥1,000,000)
God former Hikaru（Free Archi-test RES.）
Silver Medals (Prize ¥300,000)
Jun Washio（Shibaura Institute of Technology graduate school）
Masaki Fujii（Tokyo Institute of Technology graduate school）
Bronze Medals (Prize ¥100,000)
Fujii green / Minoru Fujii（A Fujii architecture studio Ltd.）
Kanako Kikuchi（A free lance）
Shinichi Maruyama（A free lance）
Kinji Kuwata（An atelier Co., Ltd.）
Keizo Kawahara（A unit four design office）
Okada Isao / Tetsuya Okuma（Space / city Building Res. Inst.）
Masako Hayashi (Chairman/Chief Judge)
Maybe because this topic was a little more interesting than the last two, I was excited to hear that the number of submissions had more than doubled this time. Some of the designs were missing the point, though, such as designing a common space connecting three different kitchens, a kitchen counter with three sets of sinks and stoves, or a three-story-kitchen with an elevator. This was not a kitchen to be shared by three different families, but to connect three generations of a same family.
60 % of the applicants were student, and 36% were professionals, and the trend of nuclear families might have had a great influence on these young people who use chain restaurants or convenience stores to buy dinners, or who mostly eat meals alone and using only microwaves to cook. I was reminded of some important issues through this competition, such as what food to eat and how to cook them, and the gravity and impact of a kitchen in homes and family lives. It might be very interesting if someone analyzed the whole applicants of this competition from a sociological perspective.
The Gold winner by Jinzen had used both of the two most popular elements in this competition: circle and movement. But the aspect with which all judges could identify might not have been the same as what the designer had originally intended: it was the flexibility to match each phases of our changing lives. The idea of creating extra space outside the circle by shifting around the island was very interesting, but it takes a lot of space and probably that was the reason why it had to be located outside. There wasn’t enough consideration made to the drainage system either, which bothered me a little. The Silver winner by Fujii, on the other hand, had fixed cabinets and plumbing system readily designed under the floor, aside from the fact that the benefit of moving things around in such a limited space was still questionable. But the sun-dial like roof and the architectural brilliance won favor of the judges and came up from behind in the end. Another Silver winner by Washio showed a hanging mechanism to move the kitchen horizontally and vertically. I wanted to see additional ideas such as the plumbing system using flexible pipes, or suggestions to move cooking instruments and table wares in this design, since the concept of a moving kitchen itself was not anything new.
The Bronze winner by Okada and Okuma was very original and suitable for this assignment, which had a two-sided sitting dining area with kitchen bar counters. I think they could have eliminated unnecessary moves if they used sunken tatami seatings for the dining area. I also wish that I could see better drawings for the plan. The other Bronze winner by Kawahara presented a one-story house to achieve the height of working counters, dining table and top lights, which I think is still questionable. Another Bronze winner by Kikuchi had an interesting perspective in finding the space outside. I wonder why she didn’t place the furnace/fireplace outside as well. The last Bronze winner by Maruyama was a practical and realistic one, including the family portrait he presented, as a suggestion to the modern Japanese style of a living space. The wall could be eliminated to create a smooth flow from the entrance to the kitchen, and to the dining room, and to make the best use of the entrance area. It was disappointing that the space around the living room was also divided and chopped up by the walls.
Masako Sone (Judge)
Kitchen equals dining activities. Kitchen space embraces a system made with people, instruments and appliances.
Since the Meiji Era (1868-1912) the main focus for kitchen improvement was on efficiency and ecology by introducing appliances, computerization, and industrialization. Today, most of the possibilities for the new tools, instruments, and equipments are out, so the role of the kitchen is now in question again, as what to do in there and what could be done in there. This theme “A kitchen that Connects Three Generations” was very timely, to reconsider people’s lifestyle and the possibilities of the dining area. Since kitchen is a familiar space for everyone, there were many enthusiastic ideas, a variety of approaches, and many fun presentations using illustrations and cartoons found in more than 240 entries.
The key to this question was how to connect the three generations. There were some popular approaches, such as incessant meeting style using one big table in center surrounded by three small kitchens, flexible and ever-changing style matching the different life styles of each generation using tools and equipments, revival of nostalgic and traditional Japanese style established in the late Edo Era (1603-1867) using fireplace/furnace, natural style with vegetable garden and irrigation system, and also a philosophical style.
The instruments and appliances we use and the quality of the space change everyday, every week, every year, every life, every generation, and according to every occasion. The Gold prize winner by Jinzen was called “Proprio”, meaning “just as you like” in Italian, bringing out the possibility of the moving and ever-changing time through organic forms.
The overall atmosphere of this competition was cheery and optimistic. But we must not forget that a fun “three-generation-dining” could in time turn into a “dining-alone”. I think that the suggestions to this question can be even more profound if you start from studying your own life closely.
Toshihiko Ishibashi (Judge)
The theme for this competition was “A Kitchen that Connects Three Generations”, and I expected not only kitchen designs, but also some suggestions on how to connect three generations through a kitchen. There were many ideas using circle as a symbol for the family connection and gathering, or using planar surface and partially mobile elements to accommodate each generation and its physical requirements. Among all these directions presented, the criteria for the selection were if the design had a certain level of reality, and was influential enough on families and living spaces. Kitchen is a highly functional and densely packed space, so some of the applicants decided to choose the actual and specific appliances and fixtures in the designs. But it backfired and didn’t work out as a realistic suggestion, which led to an entanglement of its own design. This competition showed the importance of the subtle balance between concept and reality.
The Gold prize winner by Jinzen used circle as a form and this mobile kitchen brought more organic aspects than the other ideas with geometric shapes. This kitchen accommodates the diversity of the families while creating new spaces around itself.
The Silver winner by Washio was a nimble system with a lift to store the kitchen in the ceiling, and as the time shifts, so as the kitchen by multiplying, relocating, and disappearing. Another Silver winner by Fujii was an automated kitchen that keeps moving clockwise in the building that looks like a sun-dial, which brings changes of time and atmosphere to the kitchen space. The Bronze winner by Okada and Okuma was rather still than mobile, but the kitchen scenario develops according to the stories that take place within.
I was always hoping to develop an accrual product off of these Marvel Design Competition ideas, and I could feel the possibility in going to that direction this time around.