Tokyo | Residential Boom in 1980s
Personal anecdote by a journalist Peter Popham articulates a very dense, very megalopolitan lifestyle of Tokyo in 1980s. Popham claims that the results of the near-simultaneous development of dozens of bed towns across the city is that they all look and feel identical. Some may say it is true for any megalopolises around the world, but it’s even truer in Tokyo, because of the vastness of the new development compared to the paucity and insignificance of what went before. Many of the architecture do not try to adapt to unique topography; they have been built, built and built.
It is quite interesting to note that the author drew attention to the comformist behavior of Tokyoites. This indicates both architecturally and in terms of facilities provided – a park, a shopping mall with a sort of French name – the bed towns of Tokyo are dreary bunch.
The crucial information of this “Mitsui Real Estates Part City” is the “21 minutes to Tokyo Station, 10 minutes to Yokohama Station”. By easing the transportation, this undesirable suburb is suddenly transformed into a desirable place to live. These compounds are scattered around in Tokyo, especially in suburbs. Speaking about ubiquitous compounds, it takes me back to Kengo Kuma’s plan for residential areas.
The unit clusters behind major infrastructural expressways are the residential blocks for Kengo Kuma’s blocks. Similar to the massive housing construction of 1980s, these blocks are scattered along the outside of the major transportation hub. Residential blocks are connected to major hub through linear mega-streets, thus direct connections between residential blocks and transportation is created. These blocks are quite huge compared to human scale, and this is also true for estate development in 1970s and 80s Japan. Kengo Kuma’s insight into Tokyo development had been right in some cases, though it happened much quicker than he expected.
POPHAM, P. (1985) Tokyo: The City at the End of the World. Michigan: Kodansha Amer Inc