Tokyo | Analysis of Tokyo Bay in Relation to Tokyo 1960s Onward

Since the construction of Kengo Tange’s National Gymnasium at Yoyagi that marked the feat of technical daring and Japanese tone, the unprecedented national boom continued even after the memories of Olympics faded. For brief years in late 60s and early 70s, architects saw themselves as kingly power, masterminding the construction of entire cities.

Kengo did not start this fashion, but he was soon in the center by addressing problems such as narrow streets, lack of order, and traffic congestion. In case of traffic congestion, he suggested it was due to an excessive concentration of activity at the center. Instead of dispersing this activity to sub-centers like Shinjuku, he argued for having axial configuration. He stated:

“The functions which are gathered in Tokyo seek closer mutual communication. And as a result they are drawn toward the center of the city… At the same time, the people who perform the functions spread out into the suburbs in an effort to find cheap land… We reject… the centripetal pattern in favor of an open organization which makes possible a development along a linear pattern.”

Although extremely enlightening and visionary, it also suggested an alarming failure of the imagination. In his idea, the consideration of city was in a form of concrete and steel, not of human forms. The scale was very much out of the scale, thus intimate space that most people desire has been eradicated. The lives of residents in those floating buildings on top of Tokyo Bay resembled the dwellings of trapped animals. The proximity between expressways into residential area also suggested air pollution directly affecting people’s lives.

The plan or Tange’s idea, as history tells us, has not been realized in Tokyo. His plan remains in the history book. However, it is undeniable this plan helped spark debates on the future of Japanese architecture.



POPHAM, P. (1985) Tokyo: The City at the End of the World. Michigan: Kodansha Amer Inc


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