FIXES

Non-Intentional Design: Investigating alterations of space/objects at the public/private boundary in suburban Tokyo, Japan. A resource by a-small-lab.com. Contact: Chris Berthelsen chris@a-small-lab.com

FIXing for Adaptable Futures Project

For the next little while, this research log will be taking a rest to allow me to focus on related projects like the following….

**FIXing for Adaptable Futures** is a collaborative project with the UK-based Adaptable Futures group and international contributors.

Using the ongoing investigations on this site as a starting point the project explores the implications of frugal DIY for engineering and architectural practitioners and organisations.

“AF FIXES explores the notion of adaptability through the practical ways we tweak our surrounding environment. These often frugal, yet clever acts provide a platform to examine how our buildings, streets and neighbourhoods evolve over time in relationship to our dynamic human needs. What lessons can be drawn from these quotidian adaptations – what material patterns, functional classifications and connection types arise?”

Project website HERE

No Playing in Board and Marker

Wooden sign on suburban shopping street reminds children not to play on the staircase. It’s dangerous.

No Playing in Board and Marker
No Playing in Board and Marker
No Playing in Board and Marker

Materials: Wooden Board, Marker
Location: Kunitachi, Tokyo

Skipping Aid in Power Pole Stabilizer

Skipping rope with one rope and two people requires an extra set of hands. A power pole stabilizing cable does the trick.

Skipping Aid in Power Pole Stabilizer
Skipping Aid in Power Pole Stabilizer
Skipping Aid in Power Pole Stabilizer

Materials: Power Pole
Location: Akishima, Tokyo

Playing Camp in Beer Crate and Rocks

Children play camp – an upturned beer crate rocks, concrete and plants form a roaring campfire.
Playing Camp in Beer Crate and Rocks
Playing Camp in Beer Crate and Rocks
Playing Camp in Beer Crate and Rocks

Materials: Beer Crate, Rocks, Concrete, Plants
Location: Tachikawa, Tokyo

Seating Repairs in Tape

Cracks in station seating repaired with tape. The gaps between three of the seats are also covered with tape..I wonder why…

Seating Repairs in Tape
Seating Repairs in Tape
Seating Repairs in Tape
Seating Repairs in Tape
Seating Repairs in Tape

Materials: Duct Tape
Location: Nagoya, Aichi

Station Cushions

Hand made cushions for winter station benches in Gifu (courtesy of Tajimi High School).

Station Cushions
Station Cushions
Station Cushions
Station Cushions

Location: Tajimi, Gifu

User Voices Drive Train Station Fixes

This sign in Shibuya station illustrates how station employees have ‘fixed’ ticket gate signage at the request of users.

In this case, existing signage left passengers unclear as to whether the station could be exited from the ticket gate. This was fixed by installing two signs pointing to well known exits/meeting spots.

User Voices Drive Train Station Fixes
User Voices Drive Train Station Fixes
User Voices Drive Train Station Fixes

Materials: Laminated Paper
Location: Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Don’t Come Through

PET bottles filled with water, a pot, a brick and a post all convey the message of the local residents to cars – “No Thoroughfare!”
P1170328
Materials: PET Bottle, Pot, Brick, Post
Location: Nakano, Tokyo

FIXES is “simply genius” – 3 Years Ago Today

Three years ago today Tokyo Green Space gave me much needed motivation with this lovely introductory post – Thanks Jared!

A-small-lab, Chris Berthelsen’s creativity research and practice studio, has just launched an amazing blog called Fixes. Fixes investigates and documents “alterations of space/objects at the public/private boundary in suburban Tokyo.”

There are many creative examples of people using simple and recycled materials to improve spaces outside homes and shops in a residential area. A wire coat hanger stores outdoor sandals on a beam, someone creates a wood stand for plants and bbq seating on top of a driveway boundary, a gardener recycles plastic storage containers for garden edging, and, above, someone uses a cinder block to even out the entry stairs to a residence.

Chris has an amazing eye for the creativity of Japanese people making small changes to their environment and blurring the boundary of private and public space. This blog project is simply genius.

Originally posted on Tokyo Green Space

Park Bench in Plastic Twine

Park bench constructed from household seating and plastic twine.

See “Bus stop chairs are gifted, unmatched, and spontaneous” for an insightful take on the subject (on Tokyo Green Space).

Park Bench in Plastic Twine
Park Bench in Plastic Twine

Materials: Plastic Twine
Location: Akishima, Tokyo

Parked Bicycle Stabilisation System

Particularly intricate stabilisation system for parked bicycle. Prevents the bicycle blowing over in the wind, or being toppled by other errant parkers. It also provides a central stable element to prevent the whole row of cycles from falling in a strong wind.

A laundry pole is fixed to the parking structure with bungee cords at the top end. The bottom is stablised with breeze blocks and blanket scraps. The bicycle is attached to the makeshift structure with another bungee cord. The number written on the breeze block denotes the owner’s apartment number. I’m not sure of the function of the pegs and gloves.

Materials: Breeze Blocks, Bungee Cords, Blanket Scraps, Gloves, Pegs
Location: Setagaya, Tokyo.

This example is a note for a pamphlet on “Hand Made Aspects of Mass Produced Housing”. Subscribe to my somewhat-frequent letter HERE if you want to keep in touch easily.

Care for suddenly outlawed pets

Pets were kept in the old apartments that were torn down and replaced with this modern complex. Residents were guaranteed a place in the new building, but pets were banned. Empty tuna tins scattered around in the bushes surrounding the apartments are evidence of continued care and mutual dependence.


Materials: Cans of Tuna
Location: Setagaya, Tokyo.

This example is a note for a pamphlet on “Hand Made Aspects of Mass Produced Housing”. Subscribe to my somewhat-frequent letter HERE if you want to keep in touch easily.

Play Ball

Painted plate in inner-city residential street.
Play Ball Tokyo via @oylintokyo
Materials: Paint
Location: Ueno, Tokyo

(Courtesy of Oyl in Tokyo (@oylmiller))

Informal Florist

Bouquets in milk cartons, on sale for 100 yen on the side of the Tamagawa Josui walkway in West Tokyo. Relaxed, honesty-box style informal florist makes a delightful addition to an afternoon stroll.

Informal Florist
Informal Florist
Informal Florist

Materials: Milk Carton
Location: Kokubunji, Tokyo

(Originally posted on Tokyo-DIY-Gardening)

Mailbox Latch in Rope

Mailbox facing the city street latched shut with a twist of rope.

Mailbox Latch in Rope
Mailbox Latch in Rope
Mailbox Latch in Rope

Materials: Rope
Location: Central Nagoya

Oil Can Bin Construction

Several oil cans cut apart, joined together with duct tape and painted form a large commercial-use outdoor rubbish bin.

Tin Can Bin
Tin Can Bin
Tin Can Bin

Location: Nagoya
Materials: Duct Tape, Oil Can, Paint

Frugal Hanging Garden

Frugal hanging garden constructed from three types of wire and a metal ring that was once used to secured a roll-up canvas awning.
Simple, robust, flexible.

Frugal Hanging Garden
Frugal Hanging Garden
Frugal Hanging Garden
Frugal Hanging Garden
Frugal Hanging Garden

Materials: Wire, Metal Ring
Location: Nagoya

Dog Enclosure in Wire Rack and Breeze Block

The dog has the run of the yard – kept in check with wire racks on the gate and a breeze block for stability.

Dog Enclosure in Wire Rack and Breeze Block
Dog Enclosure in Wire Rack and Breeze Block
Dog Enclosure in Wire Rack and Breeze Block

Materials: Wire Rack, Breeze Block
Location: Nagoya

Conjunctive Gardening

This rambling garden along a strech of 4-lane residential road illustrates the blurred, conjunctive nature of Tokyo gardening (although this example is from Nagoya).

Pots, blocks, dirt and plants sit, stand on and burrow over and into each1 other in a rich semi-autonomous mess. Compare this to the modular, constrained and connected formal gardens and green spaces of the financial district.

1. from Shelton (1999)

Conjunctive Gardening
Conjunctive Gardening
Conjunctive Gardening
Conjunctive Gardening
Conjunctive Gardening

Materials: Pots
Location: Nagoya

How to Use an Escalator

Maintenance times; No smoking!; Be careful if you’re wearing sandals!; Hold the handrail!; and of course – No Walking! No Running! – just stand still…..don’t move…..

How to Use an Escalator
How to Use an Escalator

Materials: Laminated Paper
Location: Nagoya

Mega-Cities: Design Anthropology and Urban Landscapes
I'm delighted and honoured to have my FIXES work included in Jared Braiterman's Tokyo University graduate seminar on mega-cities.
You can download the syllabus [HERE]


Thanks to the URBAN DESIGN Lab 西村・北沢・窪田 都市デザイン研究室, Department of Urban Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo for making this a featured resource of their lab [LINK]

Vision Plus 2010
Thanks to the organizers of the conference for selecting this project as a featured resource, even though I was not able to attend.




Article: Small Places of Anarchy in the City: Three Investigations in Tokyo on This Big City

Article: The Non-Intentional Landscape of Tokyo - read at This Big City

Article: Framework for Neighbourhood Creative Climate - read at This Big City

Tokyo Green Space from Jared Braiterman is a great inspiration [LINK]

Urban Bricolage by @ehooge is an inspiring site on a related theme [LINK]

Treepolis by Christoph Rupprecht inspires me with investigations into informal green space, cities, and urban ecology with a focus on Australia and Japan [LINK]

Everyday Structures by @alanwiig is another fine site in the same vein [LINK]