Tokyo (1986) / From Utopia to Reality – Plan for Tokyo Bay

Tokyo (1986) / From Utopia to Reality – Plan for Tokyo Bay
Coastal City of Tokyo - Axes are less rigid and more adaptable to the radial system

The Plan for Tokyo in 1960 act as a provoking argument and gesture towards the existing planning and social change with the rapid population and urban growth and the rise of automobile. When it comes to reality, the scale was too large for realization due to technological and political limitation.

In the following decades, the transportation system in Japan was not well improved and suit to the time. As Tange argued that the then transportation system was not capable for the city as a transmitter of information. The city center is mainly focused on offices and retail rather than living which mean commutation is required, however, the travelling time was 1.5 hour which is much more than the average 0.5 hour in other pivot city like Paris or New York which made Tokyo less productive and efficient. [1]The deficiency in transportation system would eventually causes social and economic defect. Socially, due to the long commutation time and the zoning strategy that the city loses the interrelation with the suburban residential areas and people do not have extra time for social life and the social linkage would be weaker. Economically, apart from the lowered productivity, the failed in dispersing the city would cause the excessive price of land in the center area and reduce its competiveness with other foreign cities.

After twenty years, a softer and more up-to-date version of the monumental and strictly hierarchical structuralist order of spaces and movement networks that Tange had already put forward in his first earlier Tokyo plan that the visual impact and mass-housing issues concern were diminished. The1986 project for a “Tokyo Bay City Plan”, which proposed the creation of a system of large mixed use artificial islands, following his comprehensive and social oriented approach to planning and suggesting again an open-ended and linear pattern of urban growth. [2]

 

Plan for Tokyo in 1960
Plan for Tokyo in 1960
Plan for Tokyo in 1986
Plan for Tokyo in 1986

 

The new proposal was again based on an axis, consisting of several parallel transportation mainlines connecting Tokyo to the artificial islands on the bay and further to the cities across the bay. The major difference between the 1960 and the 1986 one was that the developments in the bay no longer formed a continuous megastructure. Instead, they were a series of artificial islands. The plan called for a two-phase exploitation of Tokyo Bay.

In the first phase, projects planned up to that point and those already under construction would be integrated into a Coastal City of Tokyo, out on the bay from the existing urban center of Tokyo. In the second phase, the axis of development would be extended all the way to Kisarazu on the opposite shore of the Tokyo Bay and a new city center would be created at the center of the bay. The ultimate objective was to create a new city serving international trade, the information industry, and financial services for the 21 century and disperse the commercial area along the bay.

Coastal City of Tokyo - Axes are less rigid and more adaptable to the radial system
Coastal City of Tokyo – Axes are less rigid and more adaptable to the radial system
 artificial island plan with axes as the framework of layout and planning
artificial island plan with axes as the framework of layout and planning

The movement system, now consisting of a variety of infrastructure for public and private transportations and assuming a more accessible form, still dominated the whole plan as a generator of the new city. Compared to the 1960 plan, the 1986 plan was more practical yet still ambitious. [3] The civic axis and the strong hierarchical system with gigantic structure is replaced and simplified with the highway and transit system which are more adaptable to the then Tokyo plan and road system. The axes are more is more about local layout and could link to the ring road of the radial plan rather than a rigid loop system running straight to the city center.  Yet, still applicable to the trend of reclamation in Tokyo Bay area and set the sustainable precedence.

Reclammation Trend

Reclammation Trend

[1] Pernice, Raffaele. “Modern Japanese Waterfront developments-global vs. local.” Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering 237 (2007).

[2] Pernice, Raffaele. “Japanese Urban Artificial Islands: An Overview Of Projects And Schemes For Marine Cities During 1960S-1990S.” Journal of Architecture and Planning (Transactions of AIJ) 74, no. 642 (January 2009): 1847-855. doi:10.3130/aija.74.1847.

[3] Lin, Zhongjie. Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan. New York: Routledge, 2010.

4 Comments on “Tokyo (1986) / From Utopia to Reality – Plan for Tokyo Bay

  1. Tokyo has been well known as one of the cities with the highest population density, also, it is famous for the complicated yet systematic transportation systems. This narration describes the way that the Japan changed their planning mindset and how they shorten the travelling time. It is intriguing to me, while it would be great if the comparison between what the plan suggested in 1986 and what we see in Tokyo today be included as well. This will help us in understanding clearer on how the plan has actually been carried out.

  2. It is interesting to see how the planning of Tokyo bay is trying to cut across the entire bay to cut the travelling time instead of going all the way around. Such urban planning cases is not unique to Tokyo.

    However, as history show such plan of building all over the water area is problematic and unrealistic both in terms of environmental and construction issue. I believe that a possible solution is to develop a second commercial center ( poly-nucleus) or it is just more efficient to simply build a bridge across as they did in reality.

  3. It is interesting that you relate the time of traveling to the social well-being, economic effect on land price and the working productivity. I think the reason why Tokyo is being so successful as a first-class modernized and world financial city is because of its density which keeps the crucial elements on social, economical and cultural aspects in the centre of its own. The high land price of Tokyo is just the reflection of its high demand but not a defect affecting its competitiveness. For the social part, I cannot judge without evidence to say whether it is good or bad for having geographical proximity. However, I do think it is ironic to see a condensed city having trouble with its travelling duration time and I think the plan of Tange might seem to be utopian for the overall benefits for Tokyo in his own sense but if the system were actually built back then 50 years ago, we would not see how Tokyo has become such vibrant and contextually rich micro city.

  4. It is an interesting and direct solution for Tokyo to reduce the time of traveling and increase working productivity through reclaimation. I am also interested in how the proposal was realized. What were the response of the public towards the project. Apart from the hardware, is there any policies to support in solving the problems?

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