All around the globe people move to cities while leaving the countryside deserted. This leads to declining regions, and many unused houses in areas that are generally very nice, peaceful and charming. In Japan, architects have started to renovate these rural homes into satellite offices for tech start-ups. Can start-ups save the countryside?
Like the rest of the world, the Japanese countryside suffers from low birth rates and outgoing migration. Young people move to the closest big city, resulting in serious livability issues in the traditional towns and villages where they where raised. Houses are unused and as a result of bad maintenance, some even start to fall apart. One of these cities – as reported by Spoon & Tamago – is Kamiyama. Once a vibrant town with 6.000 inhabitants, the town now suffers from empty shop windows and a decreasing population. But there is hope.
A turning point came in 2012 when the architects Kosuke Bando and Issei Suma discovered the town’s great potential: lush greenery, a slow pace of life and relaxed atmosphere – exactly the things that hard-working tech-workers need. They started to renovate traditional rural homes into satellite offices for tech start-ups, and by doing so created a new model for the revitalization of shrinking towns.
The story of Kamiyama could be inspiring for many cities that need to address negative migration figures. The reason why this strategy can also work in other countries is that tech-workers everywhere in the world would love to spend more time in a peaceful and green environment. Offering a satellite office is a major asset for companies to offer to their people. There is no doubt that most big cities have smaller, shrinking cities in their vicinity that offer low housing prices, lots of green space, and the ambition to become the next “Green Valley”.