Kyoto/ Plan for having Kyo-machiya Return

In response to the bottom-up kyo-machiya boom in the 1990s, the Kyoto government has started active plans for the conservation of historic communities. A center for community collaboration – The Kyoto Machizukuri Center- was established on October 1st, 1997. The community center aims to preserve and the cityscapes that distinctively characterize Kyoto, as well as to develop a high quality residential environment in downtown Kyoto.

The “Plan for having kyo-machiya return to life, space and community” was initialed in 2000 and also takes the name of  the ” Kyo-machiya Revitalization Plan”. The core purpose of the plan is to promote the reuse of kyo-machiya and to create support networks to preserve them. The plan supports various renovations of kyo-machiya, and suggests that reused kyo-machiya might become new shops, small offices, public service facilities in the city center in future.

The community unit upon which Kyoto is historically built is the O-cho-nai which consists, in general, of a group of about ten houses, or in other words, five houses on each side of a shared street. O-cho-nai developed after the fifteenth century as self governing bodies organized by Kyoto townspeople to defend their lives. As Kyoto descended into political chaos, merchants used their economic power to create their own institutions to save their neighborhoods in the city. The central area of the capital was a place of merchant activity, unlike in Edo (Tokyo), which was a town of samurai. The merchant roots of central Kyoto can be seen in the very structure of kyo-machiya: each has space for a shop in the front room of the house.

As t downtown Kyoto is historically a residential-commercial mixed use area, the preservation process of kyo-machiya should very well reflect on that peculiarities of  Kyoto.  The idea is not to preserve single kyo-machiya house but to preserve the entire community to keep the unique cityscape of Kyoto.

 

References:

SACHIKO, Suwa. (2006) The Preservation of Kyo-machiya: A Survey of Past History, Future Plans and Current Attitudes Regarding the Unique Vernacular Architecture of Kyoto. [Online] Kyoto Notre Dame University. Available from:http://www.wachagashi.jp/kosendo/media/the_preservation_of_kyo-machiya.pdf. [Accessed: 27th December 2014]