Seeking to explore power as crucial factor in the design of the built environment, we will look at energy systems and related objects, from sites of generation to spaces of consumption, from distribution networks to control rooms.

Tutors: Filip Geerts and Sanne van den Breemer
Director of Studies: Salomon Frausto

Contributors: Santiago Ardila, Juan Benavides, Daniella Camarena, Stef Dingen, Marco Fusco, Jack Garay Arauzo, Theodora Gelali, Shaiwanti Gupta, Hao Hsu, Marianthi Papangelopoulou, Felipe Quintero, Gent Shehu, Siyuan Wang


Concrete object, Food, Consumption, Waste, National, Economy, Commercial, Image

Family mart is Japan’s largest convenience store chain brand. There are more than 16,000 Family marts in Japan. Like other convenience stores, they all have 24-hour business hours, sell food and beverages and daily necessities, and also provide ATM, printing, sending and receiving Courier, tax payment and other services.
    Convenience stores adopt a small retail business model. All products are in independent small packages, which will not burden consumers. At the same time, the convenience store’s product prices are higher than ordinary supermarkets due to longer business hours.
    Convenience store supplies are all arranged by the head office. Convenience stores of different brands have their own independent logistics. Different types of products are sent to each store through different distribution centers.
    The difference between convenience stores and ordinary supermarkets is that convenience stores have longer business hours and more fast food, including instant rice balls, bento, buns, and oden. But these two advantages also cause some problems for the store. The 24-hour business hours have forced shops to face high labor costs, which is a huge expense in Japan where human resources are scarce. Fast food has a short shelf life, and convenience stores have a lot of food waste. In order to solve these problems, some convenience stores have abandoned the 24-hour business model and discounted the sale of food near the expiration date, which has led to an increase in profits1. But this change has not become a common measure for large convenience stores.

1. Chunichi Shimbun, “Behind the scenes of 24/7 service: The realities of ‘owning’ a Japanese convenience store”. Accessed March 17, 2020.