Umaki camp is a fun social experiment of an artwork. It is a medium sized hut that is open to the public and open all the time. Think of it as an oasis to rest and get help if you need it in the middle of a small town. It can be used as a free community centre if the locals wish to use it as such but I’m not sure how they use it regularly.
Umaki camp was designed by “dot architects”, a small architecture firm started in 2004 in Osaka. The group is pretty young overall and they have their hand in a lot of projects around Japan. It is an interesting group and they have a very naturalistic style. It is very simple and a big contrast to the clean smooth lines of Tadao Ando.
Umaki camp has a very fun purpose as it is a kitchen, studio, vegetable garden, and outdoor theatre all in one. I thought the idea was great but the only people who were at Umaki camp when I visited were all tourists. A lot of foreign tourists used it as an oasis to relax and use the free internet. The Japanese tourists were mostly there for the Setouchi Triennale and they didn’t spend too much time there.
When you visit, Umaki camp is a wonderful place to have lunch. There is no food there so you will have to bring your own food, but there is a full kitchen where you can cook things as well as just relax and eat. I wish I had some food to eat there but it would have been too heavy and I had my sights set on other things to eat in the area.
The rest of Umaki camp is nice but everything was starting to look less well kept. From “dot architect’s” official page, everything looked great, but in reality, age is starting to whittle down on everything. The garden was not as nice as it could have been and many things are showing that they are not being kept as nicely as it could. The building itself is still in great shape and still looks new but I can understand that this place is not easy to maintain with only the locals and volunteers. I’m sure it will continue to be around for a long time but I hope it will maintain its high quality as well.
Umaki camp is a wonderful place and you should visit. You may not need a lot of time, especially if you are not planning to eat there. The free internet as well as the rest area is nice if you need a little help but overall I felt that they should try to hold many events during the Triennale. I will be back again but I doubt I would spend a lot of time there unless there is an event.