Summary of the Kyoto City Landscape Policy 2007 (II.)

Summary of the Kyoto City Landscape Policy 2007  (II.)
Fig. 1 Building height control ©UNESCO


Building height control can be said as the most important rule to form a city landscape and environment. Maximum height has been lowered in 30% for historical areas, residential areas in mountain foothills and industrial areas. Formerly there is only 5 height choices, which are 10m, 15m, 20m, 31m and 45m. Currently, 12m and 25m is added to the list while 45m is taken away. Also, segmenting control is imposed base on different areas. While fine-grained regulations are suited for all characteristics of each area, special attention is made to different height with adjacent areas, and considerations for both land use and scenery. In short, according to the data from UNESCO, “maximum heights are gradually lowered towards the foothills of the three mountain region.” By rescaleing all building’s height, the streetscape is once again a stage for kyo-machiya instead of highrises and human scale towns can return to its former livelihood.

Fig. 2 Regulation for landscape district ©UNESCO


Regulations regarding to the design of building are about the expansion of building size and small adjustments to the envelop of the building to match with the surroundings. For example, roof palette must be in “oxidized silver/ copperplates either plain or blue-green / non- copper plates and other”. External wall material must be matte ( with exception to glass and natural materials). Balconies should not protrude from the wall of the building, except places not be seen from public spaces or low-rise building. External wall palette is also retricted to red hues or yellow-red hue with color saturation greater than 6. Gates, fences and hedges should be used to enclose parking space for automobile and bicycles.

Fig. 3 Vistaed view, close view and distance view regulations ©UNESCO


For the surrounding scenery and vistaed view, it is divided into three zones: vistaed view, close view and distant view to regulate building’s altitude, shape, design, palettes or external walls. The furthest zone would have restrictions to its palettes of external walls while close up buildings would have more restrictions like its shape, design and most importantly its altitude. This implementation is closely related to the “borrow view” design of the historical edifices.

Fig. 4 Advertisement restrictions ©UNESCO


Advertisement restrictions are very detailed and is related to the above regulations. Firstly, rooftop signs is prohibited for good skyline. Secondly, display height should be 2/3 of buiding or by regional standards, whichever is the lowest. Thirdly, signs are prohibited to protrude beyond road thresholds in order to create good roadscape.  Lastly, signs should not block view from openings and walls, as it is counted as a detraction from building design.

Fig. 5 Repair work for Kyo-machiya houses ©UNESCO


Historical street regulation focuses on preserving the traditional kyo-machiya houses and other historical buildings, including outer repair and improvement on structure. The authority set up different improvement districts for groups of historical buildings, also for single unit.

All in all, preserving Kyoto’s landscape is aimed to enhance Kyoto’s city character and emphasizes its importance to Japan. It can bring positive effect to the local industry, tourist industry and knowledge exchange between the old and new generations.

Reference: Kyoto City Landscape Policy – Unesco. Unesco, n.d. Web. <>.

4 Comments on “Summary of the Kyoto City Landscape Policy 2007 (II.)

  1. The summaries of building regulations and city planning are important to understand Kyoto is a city that considers urban growth as much as historic conservation. However, it would also be important to know what triggered such considerations and policies? When did Unesco start to play a role in the urban planning of Kyoto? There are a variety of general descriptions in the conversation policies of the current city, but what are the historical events that framed a specific period of your research? It is unclear if your historical documentations such as the tram and the grid that relate to a certain historical moment and the interest of study (policies and regulations).

  2. The trigger point for having landscape policy 2007 is written in the previous post “Introduction to The Kyoto City Landscape Policy 2007 (I.)”. I reference this historical document from the UNESCO as they have summarized the policies neatly however, I have no interest in focusing the influence from UNESCO, but how the government combine heritage conversation with landscape and transportation policies. I focuses in the year of 2007 as the government has launched two very important and influencial policies in this year that together they better improve Kyoto’s facilities and environment for heritage preservation. (I have also mentioned my interest and focus in the Bibliography post.)

    • To look at the city’s transformation requires a comprehensive discourse on all aspects, including cultural transmission between countries (such as cities hoping to promote tourism by gaining UNESCO historical site status) . The other historical documents presented fall within an earlier time frame. It is important to trace back why the policies were set in the first place, as the 2007 one is more of a revision. What was the major event that triggered such amendment and why did they realised the previous ordinances were not enough to preserve the historical landscape? Why did it happen in 2007 after all? What did the government wanted to preserve as many of the historical fabric had already disappeared? 2007 is a very contemporary time frame, you have to bring out more from the historical background than presenting what is already laid out.

  3. I agree that building height control can be said as one of the important rule to form a city landscape and environment. However, I am curious about how 5 height choices come from. Why is it 10m and 15m etc? What trigger to these constraints? Moreover, I also wonder why did UNESCO believe recalling all buildings’ height is a better streets cape than high rises. I believe it is also interesting if it is possible to show some historical development/ development diagram of how these regulations are being carried out step by step.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.