Students from Oita Prefectural Beppu Tsurumigaoka High School visit Kume Sekkei every year for a company tour and workshop as part of their school excursion. This program has been ongoing since 2018, with a different theme each year. This year's theme was "SDGs." The students worked with Kume Sekkei staff and engaged in meaningful discussions on this theme. Based on the essays on SDGs sent by the students in advance, Kume Sekkei staff prepared the key points and messages to deliver. On December 11, nine second-year students visited Kume Sekkei's office.
High school students from Oita were nervous about visiting a corporate office for the first time. After the company introduction, they went on an office tour. As the students in their uniforms walked around the company, they attracted the employee's attention and gradually relaxed as they exchanged cheerful greetings. In the exhibition space, their eyes lit up upon seeing a model of a sports facility, and they looked at panels introducing some of our projects and exclaimed, " Wow, is this a school? So cool!" in surprise. Team discussions began in this relaxed atmosphere.
Considering the SDGs from the perspective of an architectural design firm, the workshop proceeded with three specific facilities, namely a library, office, and school, as subjects. Discussions began with our in-house para-athlete's participation from broad perspectives, including high school students, employees, and physically challenged persons. While the students use these facilities daily, it was a fresh yet challenging task for them to consider ways to make them more user-friendly for diverse users. The high school students were divided into teams that included adults they had never met before, and each team took the time to share many ideas, experiences, and feelings while using the facilities. They then completed presentation sheets loaded with unique suggestions.
The students presented ideas developed from the discussions in front of the entire group. Each team proposed the following proposals:
・Provision of spaces that meet users' needs
・Signage planning for easy visual recognition and installation of Braille blocks
・Improvement measures for building equipment and gender disparity
・Improved work conditions and elimination of wage disparities associated with employment
・Organization of the plan according to the categories of "preparedness," "safety," and "evacuation"
・Specific proposals for solar utilization, installation of emergency storage facilities, etc.
The high school students commented that the workshop was "much more fun than we had expected." They demonstrated such enthusiasm that they brought their presentation sheets home.
When creating something in today's society, it is necessary to consider the viewpoints of people in diverse positions, such as children, older people, the physically fit, and the physically challenged, in addition to those of average adults.
In architecture and urban development, communication with diverse people is essential. We need to understand their needs and issues through dialogues and interactions and make proposals to meet them. Opportunities such as company visits allow for deeper insight into real-life situations and are especially significant experiences for young people interested in architecture and design. This initiative will spur the rise of "future architects" who will create new proposals for society. Kume Sekkei will continue various activities to bridge between architecture and society for a sustainable future.