Department of Environmental Design, Faculty of Design
Professor Kayoko Kondo
On the one hand, there is a way of life that has been formed in the continuous cycles of local nature and society. On the other hand, there is the modern life that excessively depends on electricity. Even though modern life has its benefits, there is a lot to be learnt from cyclical living, and it is necessary to adopt this wisdom. However, it must be a way of increasing happiness in life and revitalizing local communities. We are conducting research from the perspective of citizens' and companies' actions to find out whether there is an approach to reach that point. Furthermore, it is expected to be a research whose findings can be transformed into proposals for social mechanisms and policies that will enable the facilitation of citizens' and companies' actions. With such problem awareness in mind, recently we have been investigating methods of ① creating mechanisms that will revitalize communities and increase residents' sense of well-being by actively utilizing natural resources including local waste, and methods of ② reviving the wisdom of traditional way of living with reduced energy consumption suited to local natural conditions. Below we provide the details.
Local mechanisms, which can utilize local natural resources such as organic waste, livestock manure, and unused resources such as thinned wood, can create a ripple effect that is economically and environmentally beneficial, amid the cooperation of local residents, companies and governments. From such successful cases as those of Ōki, Fukuoka Prefecture and Maniwa, Okayama Prefecture, which utilized local resources through the cooperation of local actors, we have been attempting to elucidate methods (structure, conditions, etc.) that can be introduced in many regions. In this research, it is particularly important to consider local socioeconomic or geographical conditions. Furthermore, we found out that social revitalization (restoring local pride and sense of well-being, etc.) becomes more likely through such activities. As part of that, we are developing local indicators that can support regional development tailored to local goals (Figure 1). We are going through trial and error so that to the characteristic abundant regions become the evaluation axis that will increase residents' well-being using sustainable methods.
Traditional society had a culture of living comfortably by adapting to natural conditions, because there were economic and technological constraints. As there is more abundance, and the constraints have been eliminated, the abundant wisdom has become obsolete. Social surveys conducted in such countries as Japan, China, Thailand and Vietnam revealed that similar modern houses and lifestyle are being adopted regardless whether it be in a cold or warm region (Figure 2). It has been confirmed that such lifestyle involves excessive energy consumption. It is becoming increasingly important to determine how houses, the way of living, and energy consumption have changed amid modernization. Especially in the rural areas and suburbs of Asia, traditional and climate-adaptive way of living has widely remained, and we are searching for the way modernization amid which that way of living is not lost, and abundant life is maintained.