Tokyo (1960) / Radial Plan reaching out for Linear Solution

Tokyo (1960) / Radial Plan reaching out for Linear Solution
loops on the junction of land and sea

At the time the Plan for Tokyo in 1960 introduced, Tokyo were exhibiting the planning according to prevalent western ideas like radial plan with center and satellite cities advocated by Ebenezer Howard and dispersion and zoning which tackle with the problem of overcrowded cities. Tange’s plan is a counter act to them.

Tange argued that the radial plan is a closed system which is not sustainable when the satellite cities expand and merge with each other causing confusion. More, it further intensifies the congestion and load of the linkage as the Britain case that young people raised in the satellite cities tend to crowd back to central cities when grow up that did not solve the problem of overcrowded in the center city.[1]

linear plan and radial plan
linear plan and radial plan

Dispersion of function and zoning would alleviate the burden of the city by moving some industries or sectors out of the center city, however, as in America that despite moving out the industries from the city center and radiate from it, tertiary productive facilities require constant touch with the city center resulting in even heavier traffic flow between the outlying region and the center meaning 2 to 3 hours’ commutation a day and thus showed the insufficiency of the strategy. [1]

The introduction of civic axis claimed to allow the spontaneous mobility characteristic of the contemporary age on one hand, and maintain the proper relationship between different sections and functions of the city on the other which well fit the post-industrial city with increasing tertiary element.[1]

Dealing with the incompatible linear solution provided by Tange and the existing radial Tokyo plan. He created the civic axis as the construction of a cycle transportation system in a height of 40 meters above existing Tokyo that only touches the ground at points of interchanges. The future axis of Tokyo would take as its point of departure the present city center and gradually extend out over the Tokyo Bay arriving at the prefecture of Chiba. [2]This system connects to all major highways and railroads. With such gigantic height difference, the new transportation avoids dealing with the existing constraint and have more freedom in deciding at which point the new interchange with the old.

loops on the junction of land and sea

Loops on the junction of land and sea


In the first five-year plan of construction, 3 cycles would be constructed. These would link Ichigaya and downtown Tokyo and Tsukiji and Harumi, the furthest of central Tokyo’s existing major man-made islands, the axis would be divided into eight so-called cycles, or internally coherent units, each with a discrete identity and function and forming a link in the overall axis.[3] Interchanges would be constructed over the moat at Ichigaya and at the control area in Tokyo Station thus linking the cycle system with the present transportation system in the metropolitan center.[1] Those loops in the sea are more regular while those on land are subjected to the geographical situation and existing plans. The transportation system could even extend to Fuji mount as a further step.

loops extension on land
Loops Extension on land

Most people recall Tange’s work as an extension of the city in the sea. Indeed, Tange ‘s civic axis is not only designed placing on water only. Indeed, he attempted the extension of loops even toward inland as far as Fuji Mount. In later variants of this proposal, such as his plans for Kyoto in 1964 and Skopje, Macedonia in 1965, the axis and the transportation system placed comfortably on land.[3] The application of the transportation system and ideology on Tokyo on line and around bay area would be discussed in later entries.

Plan for Kyoto in 1964
Plan for Kyoto in 1964


plan for Skopje, Macedonia in 1965
Plan for Skopje, Macedonia in 1965


[1] Kenzo Tange Team. “A PLAN FOR TOKYO, 1960.” Ekistics 12, no. 69 (1961): 9-19.

[2] Knee, Paul. “Paul Keel – 4.288.” Introduction to Kenzo Tange’s Plan for Tokyo. May 2, 2001. Accessed December 09, 2016.

[3]Rujivacharakul, Vimalin, H. Hazel Hahn, Ken Tadashi Ōshima, and Peter Christensen. Architecturalized Asia: Mapping a Continent through History. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2013.


3 Comments on “Tokyo (1960) / Radial Plan reaching out for Linear Solution

  1. It can be considered as a huge progress from the original radial plan to the linear solution in Tokyo. The civic axis proposed by Tange indeed provided an opportunity for the urban fabric to sprawl with little interference with the existing urban fabric and local culture. The ‘extension of the city in the sea’ reminds me of our case, Dubai’s effort to extend its coast line by reclamation and extension of its Creek, although they are in a quite different stage and situation. For those waterfront cities, the urban planning can be influenced much by its relationship with the sea in many different aspects. Back to the Planning, it is quite a gigantic and influential one in terms of mobility and urban transformation, which provides a solution to develop a new infrastructure to help the urban fabric expand and develop from the old city.

  2. Conceptually and formalistically, the notion of a linear highway is one that follows the american sentiment, and one which Le Corbusier advocated, in that speed and the vehicle was the next thing which would define architecture.

    As a metabolist, perhaps this linear form, characterized by loops is both symbolic as a push to greater mobility as it is a desire to be more functional than the radial city plan. However, while the idea of a such a plan seems to be feasible in that it is able to freely touch the ground at points where intersections are deemed valuable, would its linearity be practical in the long run? For instance, a city as dense as Hong Kong holds individuals who freely walk to where they want to go, at times when want to go. This unpredictable movement would clash with the linear system. An interesting prospect is to what extent could the linear system be used, especially in the modern day, and with the consideration that not all individuals will need to go along its axis similar to that of a traditional square

  3. An interesting fact is that both Kenzo Tange and Uzo Nishiyama have skeptical comments on the Garden City Theory. Nishiyama reckoned that this idea is a specific type of intervention that would be difficult to implement in Japan, and that the idea of garden suburbs and satellite cities flourishing under the Garden City influence should be used with caution since the long-term consequences of that type of planning experiments were still unclear. I think this can be seen as one of their common views, which formulate their decision later in creating linear urban forms.

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