Charles Heid

Charles Heid

Birmingham, MI, US


Difference: Sendai

This project represents a departure from forms and infrastructures driven by fluid, continuous, and smooth relationships. Instead, relationships between systems of infrastructure and form rely on a dissonance, disturbance, fracture, or break representative of the separation between unrelated, yet existent, conditions (mainly rice farming or Tsunami relief). A dichotomy between purpose of infrastructure and aesthetics of infrastructure arises as the expression of seemingly indifferent systems, which consequentially informs our projects mode of representation.

The seductive effect of the infrastructural object lies not in its indifference to human form or desire, but in its indifference to our clouded and subjective search for beauty. Rather than becoming weighed down in such pointless tasks, the forms of infrastructure are quietly and purposely built on their own autonomous language. By initiating, instead, a desire for habitation in the face of hostile forces, this project recognizes the object’s instrumentality in actuating a desire through clear and precise forms.

Rather than proposing the birth and evolution at once, this project seeks only the moment of conception, the rude act of mitigating environmental forces through a rational creative process. In this way, it comes into poetic relationship with its infrastructure-rich surroundings. The slab is a monument, the way the tower, the factory, or the bridge is a monument. The relationship between the canals, floodwalls, elevated roadways, escape towers and housing slabs is the architecture of the Sendai plain.

Inserting tsunami relief structures across the Sendai Mayagi coast, disturbance is created through a presence and tectonic form - the cube. Acting as our foreign, unrecognizable disturbance progenitor set deliberately throughout the site inside survived Igune settlements, the cube offsets a series of diverging canals and roads used at the industrial scale of rice farming. Only at the furthest distance, canals and roads appear to be fluid and streaming. Instantiating a crude retention system along all major roads, canals, and embankments, unexpressive earth stabilizing systems run unimpeded until they encounter the cube, at which time they break their purpose as retention devices and become escape hills or vistas. Located along the Miyagi Prefectural Road, a 240 meter tall residential tower acts as a wall for city expansion, and in turn creates a series of garden plazas, viewing platforms, and beach gardens initiating a memory forest dedicated to the lost fishing village of Arahama. The tower also draws the line between city expansion and coastal activity. Unmolested park space left for free activity and unimpeded by the congestion and density of our urban cities generation.

This project explored an aesthetic model based on the absence of both the ornamental and the cosmetic, which is to say, clear form. It has nothing to do with “honesty”. It has to do with the careful engagement with the facticity of the site and our project there. Sad approximations of ideality are not sought, only precise formulations of desires in the presence of conditions.

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Status: School Project
Location: Sendai, JP
Additional Credits: Tim Callan