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Stadium City

Earlier, we posted a few photos from Hatakeyama's amazing Blast series. We return to him again, but this time to his diptych of the Osaka Stadium, the former home of a local baseball team. Here, we find no athletes or cheering fans or even astrotruf, and instead discover a cluster of houses, an entire neighborhood complete with its own parking lot. But is it an actual neighborhood, perhaps a gated community? Is it an aberrant strain of the cul-de-sac typology?

If one were to trust Google's translation of this page, which apparently is the only one in Googledom to have much in the way of information on the building, it's actually a “residential display room.” That seems to contradict other sources, but as it is, we must content ourselves with what can be gleaned from Hatakeyama's photographs plus some Yodaspeak and go with model housing showroom.

Still, we'd like to think of it as a new breed of urbanism: Sports Entertainment Real Estate. A city gets suckered into the myth that sports stadiums are economic saviors, builds one, gets tired of it, and stages another baroque operetta between team owners, the politicos, preservationists and tax payers before another one is built. That leaves the former stadium to be colonized. No void left unfilled. A new neighborhood already with a security perimeter, branded identity and history. And mythology: “This was where the White Sox finally ended their World Series drought,” a father tells his son as they play catch.

Landscape as a function of ESPN statistics.

Or better yet: you're bored and lonely and feeling a bit perverted, so you take to the bleachers, beer, chips and binoculars on hand, and watch your neighbors as they dine or argue or have sex. Think Colosseum and mock sea battles.

Ticket revenues will pay for the mortgage.

POSTSCRIPT #1: Comments by Geoff Manaugh, here postscripted to the front:

See, that's the thing: it'd be like the Truman Show in real-time, you'd take the subway down to the stadium on Friday night – the Re/Max Dome – and the people there – like Urban Survivor – the people who had volunteered to live there, to live their normal lives, in their normal suburban way inside these houses, sitting silhouetted in windows checking email, cooking pork roast, throwing frisbees outside... they're actually being watched by a stadium full of tens of thousands of spectators. Dwelling as spectacle. "I love the way you clean house!" scream the fans of domesticity.

An anthropology-entertainment complex.

Or it's a new TV show, you put unwitting families into badly designed houses – houses that are surrounded by stadium seating – and then you film and watch and document them every second of the day. Instead of making raunchy videos and pulling each other's bikinis off, or getting into grilled-meat-inspired fist fights beside the swimming pool, they scream at weird doors that won't open, they shout and punch and claw at walls that have no business being there, and is that a shelf blocking the toilet...? The trauma of the built environment – watching others deal with it. Domestic architecture as spectator sport.

Whoever dwells best, wins. Who dwells it, knows it.

Anyway, I was about to post this exact photo but you beat me to it – I should condemn you to a prison built inside a baseball stadium, where everything you do is watched by tens of thousands of screaming fans... The new Panopticon: the live-in prison/stadium complex.

(Though surely this idea could be pitched to ABC? Re/Max, Toll Brothers, Major League Baseball, and perhaps the Urban Land Use Institute will cosponsor it... With a live-in blogger known as Pruned...)

POSTSCRIPT #2: Today we read on Things Magazine what is there now: the green oasis of Namba Parks.

Naoya Hatakeyama & Geoff's Earth-Fountain©
  • Geoff Manaugh
  • October 20, 2005 at 2:54:00 PM CDT
  • That – above – should read "the Urban Land Institute," incidentally. Whoops. I guess that means I'm going to baseball prison...

  • Anonymous
  • October 21, 2005 at 7:07:00 AM CDT
  • Has striking relevance in a time where stadiums are refuge for displaced victims of hurricanes

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