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Tokyo Tech Grand Prix: Students proposing facilities for students

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December 18, 2018

Construction of Hisao & Hiroko Taki Plaza, the new student exchange hub that will welcome campus-goers to Ookayama Campus from October 2020 onwards, will commence shortly. In order to incorporate student ideas into the design and functions of the innovative building, the Institute hosted the Tokyo Tech Grand Prix on October 10 and 17.

The two-day event attracted approximately 30 Japanese and international students, ranging from bachelor to doctoral level, who were eager to brainstorm, develop, and propose ideas on how to best utilize Taki Plaza when it opens. Facilitated by Tokyo Tech faculty, staff, and student assistants, as well as representatives from Gurunavi, Inc. and Kengo Kuma and Associates — the architectural team responsible for the overall design of the building — the event provided an important glimpse into what Tokyo Tech students expect from their campus in the future.

Students examining Taki Plaza model with architects

Students examining Taki Plaza model with architects

Tokyo Tech alumnus and main contributor Hisao Taki sharing his thoughts
Tokyo Tech alumnus and main contributor
Hisao Taki sharing his thoughts

On the first day, Tokyo Tech alumnus Hisao Taki — the chairman, representative director, and CEO of Gurunavi Inc. and main contributor to the project — shared with students his vision for the building. Since the concept phase, Taki had envisaged "a space where international and Japanese students connect, deepen ties, and create the future together." He spoke on the importance of embracing a diverse, multicultural environment, and expressed hope that Tokyo Tech would continue to lead in welcoming the international community to Japan.

Grouping ideas based on similar themes
Grouping ideas based on similar themes

Student assistants Kaito Inomata (left) and Yuuga Yashima
Student assistants Kaito Inomata (left) and Yuuga Yashima

After philanthropist Taki's speech, students sat down to jot down their individual ideas. Post-its containing these ideas, which ranged from street pianos to world kitchens and collaboration rooms to art galleries, were grouped on the massive wall at the T-POT learning commons.

To provide students with additional focus, the Student Support Division followed with an overview of Tokyo Tech's continuous efforts to promote student-centered activities and the position of Taki Plaza in this Institute-wide plan. Toshiki Meijo, representing Kengo Kuma and Associates, shared details of the building's interior plan, and explained how the external structure blends in with its surroundings. Student Life Coach Atsuko Suzuki described how other universities at home and overseas are designing student spaces, while student assistants Kaito Inomata and Yuuga Yashima, both 3rd-year Chemistry students, shared results from a survey on attitudes regarding study abroad and international exchange.

After these presentations, students again formed groups to develop further the ideas they had initially proposed. Each group was a diverse mix of home and international students, and discussions continued well into the evening in both English and Japanese.

Snapshots from workshop

Snapshots from workshop

Snapshots from workshop

Snapshots from workshop

Snapshots from workshop

Snapshots from workshop

Snapshots from workshop

Student groups had a week to mull over their ideas before the second session. On October 17, the Tokyo Tech Grand Prix participants reconvened at the T-POT, ready to give their presentations to judges from Tokyo Tech, Kengo Kuma and Associates, and Gurunavi. Inc. Each group put forth their proposals while pay particular attention to four criteria: impact on students, cost of implementation, operation method, and potential concerns.

At the end of the second Grand Prix day, judges announced three groups as winners of the competition.

Team
Prize
Proposal
Team P.J
Tokyo Tech Prize
Taki Plaza as a centralized hub — and model for the whole Institute — to address three challenges: Language barriers, activity awareness, information chaos. Make-up area for female students and open access to peer tutors.
Team √3
Gurunavi Prize
Taki Tea Time, Taki Cooking Time, Taki Night Time — creating meaningful conversation, connections, and ambience for students by students. Three overarching themes spread throughout the day, with occasional visits from experts and performers.
Team FREE
Kengo Kuma and Associates Prize
Flexible lounge with relaxation area, occasional movie theater and post-credit discussion, mobile tables and chairs, 24-hour closed study area in B2 floor for safe student environment.

Tokyo Tech Vice President for Teaching and Learning Jun-Ichi Imura (right) awarding Team P.J the Tokyo Tech Award
Tokyo Tech Vice President for Teaching and Learning
Jun-Ichi Imura (right) awarding Team P.J the Tokyo Tech Award

Gurunavi, Inc. Executive Vice President Hisao Iizuka (right) congratulating Team √3 for earning the Gurunavi Award
Gurunavi, Inc. Executive Vice President
Hisao Iizuka (right) congratulating
Team √3 for earning the Gurunavi Award

Members of Team FREE receiving the Kengo Kuma and Associates Award from Meijo (right)
Members of Team FREE receiving
the Kengo Kuma and Associates Award from Meijo (right)

Congratulations to all the participants and winning student teams. The Taki Plaza Student Working Group, to be established in the near future, will ensure that student voices continue to be heard and promoted until and after the opening of the building.

The whole Tokyo Tech community is excited to see how Taki Plaza will take shape in the next two years.

Final group photo

Final group photo

Contact

Support Planning Group, Student Support Division

Email gak.sie@jim.titech.ac.jp

Student Learning Support Section, Student Support Center

Email concierge.info@jim.titech.ac.jp

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