Tokyo (1990) / Circulation Axes – a Double–edged Sword reflected by Teleport Town

Tokyo (1990) / Circulation Axes – a Double–edged Sword reflected by Teleport Town
Empty Axes without Commercial Buildings aligned along as envisioned

The Teleport town was perceived as a model for future sub-center in TMG and supporting enterprises at the time. However, reality deemed to fall rather behind the expectation. Despite the burst of economic bubble in the 90s that most critics regard as the critical reason of the failure[1], this entry would investigate the possible factors in the facet of transportation system when applying the Tange’s plan to the project.

Redundant Pedestrian walkways

There were mainly four types of pedestrian walkways in the town: The Axes, the street, the pedestrian deck and the inner street linking the malls and public transit.

The pedestrian axes are not realized as planned since some shopping malls were not oriented with entrance towards the boulevard-like axes. And offices instead of shopping malls were built that people just went to the shopping malls directly via the closest train exit. In other words, the inner street of the malls attracts the main pedestrian flow instead of the boulevard and the parks as envisioned[2].

This may attribute to the fact that the town is selling the plot to different private sector without strict rules on the opening, orientation and circulation flow and transit planning is not coordinating well with the town planning. The exit should be somewhere along the axes rather than connected to the malls internally and directly if the pedestrian flow were designed as transit, axes and then malls along the two side of the axes. In addition, plans were made in the time Japanese bubble economy still had a healthy appearance and attracted many foreign investors. Unfortunately, the burst of the bubble economy strikes out capital and investment and thus the buildings envisioned to be built[2]. The program along the axes changed from commercial in 1990 zoning plan to office as seen in the 2012. Therefore, the axes are not for the people to walk along for shopping and leisure as purposed.

Axes and Station Exit
Axes and Station Exit

Changed land use along the axes

Changed land use along the axes

Empty Axes without Commercial Buildings aligned along as envisioned

Empty Axes without Commercial Buildings aligned along as envisioned

Instead, the commercial area shift to the north with the pedestrian deck in the north connects a few shopping malls. Yet, they are disconnected from the ground level and the beach. Since the buildings have their entrances on the deck level, the street below is facing the dead wall of the malls and not utilized despite its wide and decent appearance and the waterfront is isolated to the public.

 

pedestrian deck changed the proximity of the sea and the street is underutilized
pedestrian deck changed the proximity of the sea and the street is underutilized

 

Though the plan endeavored to provide much more space for pedestrian as observed that the older urban design in Tokyo were automobile driven[3], the objective of having different spatial quality for the same circulation is not clear and the estimation of the proportion of target user and capacity is not accurate resulting in large empty redundant street space.

Disconnection within the town and to the mainland

Move to the traffic flow for transportation, the four districts are suffering from serious disconnection due to the 80-meter-wide highway with only 2 pedestrian bridges crossing the boundary. The highway is noisy and disturb the whole island. Different from Tange’s plans for Tokyo, the automobile is not totally uplifted from ground with the ground purely for pedestrian flow and the lanes are rather widespread rather than having different levels according to different speed. Thus, it is barely walkable between district.

the north and south side of the Teleport Town divided by the wide road
the north and south side of the Teleport Town divided by the wide road

Oppose to the name of “Teleport Town” which reveals the insular city was supposed to be well connected with the rest of Tokyo which would allow it to become a real dynamic sub-center of the Metropolis, the town is regarded as a isolated island since the Rainbow Bridge and the Yurikamome rapid transit line connecting the Teleport Town and Tokyo is time-consuming[4] and discourages proper delocalization of business activities. As shown from the transit plan below, the Tokyo Teleport station was the far of the transit link in the 90s, even with the extension of the railway after 5 years, it kept on wandering along the ring of the radial plan but not directly link to the center of Tokyo which does not really draw and encourage commutation around the area.

The transit development regarding Teleport Town
The transit development regarding Teleport Town

[1] 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.

[2] Klaas Dhaene. Tokyo and Its Waterfront. July 15, 2012. https://issuu.com/klaasdhaene/docs/tokyo_and_its_waterfront.

[3] O’Flaherty, Coleman. Transport planning and traffic engineering. Elsevier, 1997.

[4] Kuwabara, M., and H. Chikamatsu. “Integrated traffic control system and automatic train operation system for waterfront line.” In Developments in Mass Transit Systems, 1998. International Conference on (Conf. Publ. No. 453), pp. 62-67. IET, 1998.

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