Hiroshi Kaneko

MDes

Misappropriating Camp’s Walls: Architecture without Precedent, or Finding Architecture in the Japanese American Incarceration Camps

Advised by Lisa Haber-Thomson

This thesis centers around the disciplinary question: How might architects employ nonarchitectural precedents—histories of exclusion or oppression—as sites to project architecture from? 

Through both text and design work, an architectural disposition is constructed from the dis-positional fabric of the Japanese American camps that were set up to incarcerate Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II. Misappropriation is developed as a device to enable the construction of a position, and therefore an architecture, from an otherwise bleak history of dispositionality, or territorial dispossession. Threads are traced from the Japanese American camps to a working definition of “American camp” that follow recurrent and contemporary American histories of exclusion, incarceration, and colonialism and their implications on and within architecture.

Misappropriation is deviant, appropriative, and messy in its act.

Misappropriation is deliberately not appropriate. 

Misappropriation says, if it is a wall, then it is architecture.

Pastel concept sketch of a wall elevation using the materiality of the walls of American Camp as precedent for projecting an architecture.

A semiotic square, also known as a Klein Group or Piaget Group, that maps the planar relationship between positionality, dis-positionality, re-positionality, and Disposition; the relationship between walls and architecture with the conditional statement “if it is a wall, then it is architecture”; the sites of assimilation and cultural appropriation; and the site and device of misappropriation in the construction of an architecture with Disposition out of dis-positionality or a dis-positioning wall.

One of four identical 1:6 models of a framed wall built with standard dimensioned lumber used in a design charrette that asked participants to “dress” and “drape” the framed wall with the materiality of the walls of American Camp.

A photograph of three of the four “dressed” walls, that include the following techniques of working with the materiality of the walls of American Camp: draping, folding, tucking, pleating, pulling, pinning, weaving, stretching, tying, knotting, rolling, and stuffing.

A photograph of all four of the “dressed” walls, that include the following techniques of working with the materiality of the walls of American Camp: draping, folding, tucking, pleating, pulling, pinning, weaving, stretching, tying, knotting, rolling, stuffing, strapping, and clamping.