March Images - Jan Faza EDIT.jpg


JULY 2019

STIMSON landscape designer, Mingjie Cai, wins First Prize for her submission in the International Bubble Design Competition!

This year’s theme asked designers to study ways to “Eliminate Loneliness Through Design” in response to the notion of isolation in this modern world.

An excerpt from Mingjie’s thesis:


Tokyo: The City of Loneliness
Loneliness is not Tokyo’s illness; it’s the status quo of the city. Given that loneliness is a comprehensive urban structural issue, the operative action should be in the scale of the whole city by applying a systematic approach -- a new layer of spiritual infrastructure in the city that serves to everyone.

Urban Tree Hole
People who feel lonely may not necessarily reach out to a friend for help. They might prefer a “tree hole”: a target that can be easily found around you, will not respond or react to what you say, only provides a hollow space/enclosed shelter for anyone who wants to spend a couple of minutes with themselves.

We propose a plan of constructing Urban Tree Hole around Tokyo that provide small spaces in the city that those lonely individuals can enjoy being with themselves, with space, and with loneliness.

Celebrate Loneliness with Tree, Sky, and Water
In our proposal, there are three typologies of Urban Tree Hole being inserted into Shibuya, the downtown of Tokyo, by either reinvigorating redundant store on the street side, creating corridor between buildings, or excavating underground space. In the space of the Urban Tree Hole, a visitor can enter a pop-up store where they can sit, look at a street tree through the store window, and start a silent conversation with it. Visitors can walk through the corridor between two skyscrapers in which the city view is blocked, but the sky is reflected by tilted mirrors on both sides of the corridor. There is an underground space beneath the Shibuya Crossing which collects “invisible” Tokyo water through run-off and utilizes the water to form a water feature for visitors to immerse.

Arch Daily wrote about the competition and Mingjie’s winning submission.

Carole Goodman