© 2008-2016 Alexandra Gens   
New Tsukiji
Instructor Junichi Satoh    Course RISD, Tsukiji Market, Fall 2010

0, Overview
A proposal for Tokyo's rebuilding of Tsukiji Market that retains the inherent scales and social interactions of its present incarnation while still dealing with issues of digitalization and verticalization.

1, The Market
The largest fish market in the world, Tsukiji, moves $28 million worth of seafood a day and occupies 56 acres of potentially high-value land right on Tokyo Bay at the end of the Ginza strip. To better capitalize on the value of this land and to update the systems of the fish market (built in 1935) the city plans to relocate the market to Toyosu, another land-fill further into the bay. And yet, Tsukiji's long reign as the 'stomach' of Japan makes it a very complex creature. Deep roots of culture and tradition are embedded in the fish market and its mode of operations. This studio asked that the implicit, in addition to the explicit, value of the market be kept in its new location.

A. Photographs of stalls in the market/

2, At the scale of the human
The first task in addressing Tsukiji's move was to find a method of understanding the massive scale of the market. I began to examine the market by way of human increments (B, C, D): the size of stalls and objects relative to the height of a human being, the level of an average gaze, the stride of a human walking, and the rhythm of a voice. These studies led to an understanding of the fish market's culture that was dependent on what could be touched and seen directly. The kinesthetic knowledge of the hand in cleaning and preparing the fish, the ability to judge a whole batch of tuna at a single glance and brief touch, all of these things perform crucial roles at the market. Overlapped with this other way of knowing is the social nature of these hinges. This became the heart of the project: in these moments in which the value of fish was exchanged through either physical or social interactions, that is where the culture and life of Tsukiji can live on.

B. Study of existing Tsukiji stalls in relation to human figure/

C. Study of existing Tsukiji stalls/

D. Detail of C/

E. Charette for new Tsukiji stall/

F. Charette for new Tsukiji stall/

3, Adapted and integrated hinges
The task, then, of the proposal, was to integrate these existing hinges into the new digital Tsukiji, or rather, the new digital hinge (E). Every exchange in the building references and is reference by an exchange larger than itself. The proposed, protruding digital cores (shared by 1, 3, 5 or 7 units, depending on the size of the independent stall owner)(I, J, K, L) are illuminated during the now digital auction, always held early in the dim dawn light. While the auction itself may now slip into the silence of the digital, the spaces in which the purchasers go to visit and gauge the fish (each monitored by private auction houses) are deliberately social; occupying the top of the building with views of the city and almost civic gathering spaces. The building, the size of an urban intervention, curves through the city, offering views to its neighbors of the going ons of the market, and in this offers a sense of plurality to those bidding in the digital cores (H).

G. Design parti/

H. Parti, site & building/

I. 1 Unit/

J. 3 Unit/

K. 5 Unit/

L. 7 Unit/

M. Detail of flexible floor & wall system/

N. Site plan before re-urban inhabitation, with Old Tsukiji as the underlay/

O. Renderings of units/