Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. It capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being (ref. Project for Public Spaces).
We launched our “Curry Caravan” in March 2012, as an attempt for communicative placemaking through “cooking out” in various public spaces. As of August 2014, we made trips to about twenty-five cities/towns in Japan, in order to observe and think about the ways in which people react to spontaneous “cook out” situations. “Curry Caravan” consists of a series of small-scale, do-able experiments that can be immediately tested in public spaces.
To begin with, we selected curry as a “token” to connect people together, since curry (curry and rice) has been one of the most popular and favored dishes among Japanese foods.
As we first cooked curry in a vacant store in Sumida-ku, Tokyo, we recognized that curry has a capacity to facilitate our communication. Because many of us are familiar with the process of making curry, “cook out” situations tend to invite community members to bond around the currypot, and to talk about various issues. You might recall an old folk story, “Stone Soup,” in that delicious soup is made by villagers, each adding various ingredients. Similarly, “Curry Caravan” creates a place for talking, cooking and eating with others.
（Curry Caravan in Matsudo, Chiba, 2013. Film by Kana Ohashi）
When we reflect upon the nature of our social relationships, being with someone or being on-site (at the time of the event) is becoming more and more important. It points to the idea of “design of sharing,” and that is realized through raising our consciousness about our problems at hand. “Curry Caravan” is an attempt to promote a sense of belonging to the community, and the nature of human relationships within.
Further, we plan to continue our caravan to learn more about the notion of placemaking.