Naoki Terada likes to think small--very small, in fact.
Terada, a 45-year-old architect with an office in Shinjuku, can reproduce 1:100 scale models of global cities, complete with tiny people and scenery. His models have included Tokyo, with a soba restaurant delivery boy racing through the city; New York City, with a mounted police officer on patrol; and Amsterdam, with its bicycle-riding residents.
Ever since he was a young boy, Terada has had a growing interest in plastic models. Attention to detail is a must. His rendering of Amsterdam’s Lloyd Hotel comes complete with miniature people standing just 19 millimeters in height, some riding bicycles.
They come from Terada's "Miniature people and animals set for Architectural Models: Amsterdam." It was after he was interviewed on residential architecture by a Dutch journalist that Terada put on his first solo exhibition overseas, allowing the Lloyd Hotel guests a look at his work from May 11-31.
The Amsterdam set, which comes on a mount 148 mm long and 103 mm wide, includes people of both sexes, dogs, birds, various bicycles and carriers, plus a bench, guardrails and tulips. You can create a man proposing to a woman or a dog taking a rest by taking out the relevant parts and folding them over.
Terada walked the streets of Amsterdam before designing the set, measuring benches and other objects on roads and buildings. He included numerous bicycles to represent Holland's advanced cycling culture and heighten awareness of environmental conservation.
"The exact detail of my designs has been complimented for being (high quality) like Japanese manufactured goods,” said Terada.
As a child growing up in Tokyo's Kunitachi, Terada was obsessed with plastic models. He rode his bike to hobby shops as far away as Tachikawa and Kokubunji.
“I knew everything about the plastic model shops in Kunitachi, Tachikawa and Kokubunji, and I never failed to check for new items,” he recalled.
He especially liked fighter planes and battleships. When other kids started getting into plastic models based on the Mobile Suit Gundam series, Terada wasn't interested.
“There aren’t any full-sized ones in real life, so they aren’t realistic,” he said.
Terada studied at Meiji University's Department of Architecture. He became a class-1 architect and began designing homes, but when he showed a rendered model of a new home to a client, the response was less than enthusiastic. Terada's inner child was hurt.
He then tried to win over the client by placing people with the same 1:100 scale as the house on the veranda and in the entrance and yard. The client, whose mood had now completely changed, suddenly began to talk.
"This is the kind of thing I want to do when I start living here!"
Terada then turned his attention to city streets. He produced the feel of Tokyo with a 1:100 scale model containing crows and vending machines, and included parts for subway station entrances and hot dog carts for his New York City set. Amsterdam is the latest of Terada's creations, all of which are for decoration. The kits sell for 1,575 yen each under the Terada Mokei brand.
With his plastic models and miniature people and animals, Terada has tried to create the illusion of real life sitting in the palm of your hand. He hopes his work will complement the memories of people who have visited the actual cities.
Terada's next project is to make a model of bustling Bangkok, capital of Thailand, with all the mini people and animals commonly found there.
“This Asian city's streets are chaotic,” he said. “I'm really excited about it.”
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