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Yumiko’s Kawaii Land, Portishead

Part 2 Project 2021
Jichen Fan
University of Greenwich | UK
In Adrian Forty's Words and Buildings (2004) 64 different kinds of 'character' are discussed in relation to architecture, but cuteness is not on this list. Forty concludes that architectural character can be described through three main factors: as expression of a building’s particular purpose, as the evocation of specific moods, and the sense of character as an expression of locality, of place. (Forty, 2004). As a response to Forty, this project explored whether Japanese notions of cuteness, in the form of ‘kawaii’, could expand ideas of architectural character.

In the western world, kawaii culture (cuteness in Japanese) has been dismissed as feminine or infantile. However, kawaii today is not only the appearance of things. It is embedded in the Japanese spirit and culture. In a few words, it has become an inner reality. Thus, this project explores the potential of a kawaii architecture and its social relevance. Through surveying the history of kawaii, three golden design rules were determined in relation to the inner cuteness of Yumiko Jones, a semi-fictional resident of Portishead. Using these rules, Yumiko’s Kawaii Land is a Japanese cultural cul-de-sac that looks to add a touch of cuteness to the greyness of Portishead and its regeneration.

Jichen Fan


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