Sunday, October 30, 2005

Doken Kokka

This is interesting;
The G-Cans Project, in other words, reveals the quasi-mythic splendor of grandiose civic infrastructure, something the United States is ridding itself of entirely – yet something Japan is now all but entombed within.

A "construction state" – or doken kokka – has effectively taken over the Japanese economy, according to Gavan McCormack in the New Left Review. The doken kokka, he writes, "is opaque, unaccountable, and therefore hard to reform. Essentially, it enables the country’s powerful bureaucrats to channel the population’s life savings into a wide range of debt-encrusted public bodies – those in charge of highways, bridge-building, dams and development initiatives," and that means "promising new public-works projects," thus "concreting the archipelago."

The article is pretty amazing, actually, even shocking – though I do have to say that some of the projects it describes would be an engineer's dream. But it comes with the realization that all this frenzied global construction may be more than just a bubble – see recent analyses of China's own building boom, for instance – or Dubai – but a kind of hysteria, a building-pathology.

One wonders, in fact, if there might be a disease, something Freud discovered, a neurosis of some kind: suddenly you start building things – and you don't stop building things. You move beyond talking – building, building, always building – and soon you're like that bearded guy in Close Encounters of the Third Kind: you've got mashed potatoes all over your hands and there's a mountain in the living room.

That, or you've just built the world's largest sewer.
(Via Archinect – and see earlier on BLDGBLOG). G-CANS photos here.

I find this interesting not just because it's cool and interesting - it is, no doubt and can't you just see mecha in some of those frames? We can hope what the author is describing is the future. We'll be moving up and out soon, building habitats the size of first buildings then cities and larger. These will be doken kokka, they must be to sustain life.
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