A Study on Creating Remote Workplaces and Promoting the Use of Vacant Stocks in an Underpopulated Area with Historical Townscapes
A study on creating remote workplaces and promoting the use of vacant stocks in an underpopulated area with historical townscapes
Masahiro Maeda, Associate Professor, Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University
Yaeko Kataoka, Architect / Representative Director, Kokoroe Inc.
The Ushimado area of Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture, which is the subject of this study, is a port town that has prospered since ancient times as a transportation hub of the Seto Inland Sea. Since the modern age, the development of land transportation and other means of transport has led to the decline of local industries, such as forestry and shipbuilding, and a declining population. Thus, this area has now been designated as one of the few depopulated areas on the sea-facing side of Okayama prefecture.
On the other hand, “Shiomachi Karakoto Street,” once the main street of the town, still retains its historic townscape with its rows of old wooden houses. Since the 2010s, an increasing number of people from urban areas have moved here, seeking a place where they can experience the mild climate and rich history and culture of the Seto Inland Sea. Therefore, local residents and the government are conducting activities to support their migration. In 2017, an initiative was launched to revitalize and utilize the building of the former Ushimado Clinic owned by Setouchi City. After discussions with people involved in local community development and immigrants, the building has been officially opened in June 2021 as the “Ushimado TEPEMOK,” a base for creators’ activities.
This study will participate in the regional revitalization activities based at the “Ushimado TEPEMOK”. It aims to propose, practice, and verify a new lifestyle through making a place for remote work in this facility, as well as to clarify the issues and possibilities for promoting the use of stocks, such as vacant houses, by spreading this new lifestyle to surrounding areas. As our laboratory sets our base in the building of the former clinic, a place beloved by the local residents, and does activities in collaboration with the local community, it is expected to have the effect of creating new connections between local and urban areas, while enhancing the well-being of the site users (presumably migrants and temporary residents), the owners of vacant stocks and the local community.