Kyoto (1960-1964) / Uzo Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto 1964
In the previous blog post, ‘Kyoto Tower and modernists at that time’, I have elaborated on the influence of Nishiyama in the field of modernization of Kyoto during the post-war period. In the following, I will go deeper into his Plan for Kyoto 1964.
The main objective of Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto is to preserve the natural environment and cultural properties of Kyoto, while creating high-dense living complexes; major changes are also applied to the existing traffic system.
Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto 1964 mainly consisted of a belt-shaped mega-structure that is five street blocks wide and thirteen kilometers long, running parallel to Kyoto’s north-south axis and flanked by several primary historic sites including the Imperial Palace, Nijo Castle, and Nishi Honganji Temple. The entire belt would sit on an enormous ‘artificial land’ elevated above the ground, divided into five linear sections of equal width. The central band was reserved for a pedestrian street, open space, and low-rise residential buildings. On either side there were two strips of high-rise residential buildings, all 100 meters high and arranged in a checkerboard pattern. Each building was conceived as a self-contained neighborhood and occupied an entire block.
The term ‘laminated housing’ was coined for these residential buildings because different layers have different functions. Every few stories in a the building there would be a public level, or so-called ‘Neighboring Space.’ A primary school and a green garden would be located on the rooftop. Skyways, containing a few residential units, connected residential buildings in the air. Highways and monorails would run right beside the artificial land, linking the new linear district to national expressways and railways on either end of it. The space under the artificial land but above the street grid would be used for parking. By doing so, Nishiyama looked for a clear separation of citizen circulation and automobile circulation, ultimately taking back the central space of the city for walking on foot while sparing the sideways for cars. This important objective rooted from Nishiyama’s observation on the fact that automobile has dominated the road traffic in modernized cities, over seeing the importance of walkways fro human.
On the whole, Nishiyama was interested in understanding urban development and believed in the application of scientific principles to identify the qualities of a ‘good’ town in existing organic urban forms. However, he had difficulties in putting his idea into practice even though his influence spurred his professional career, such that he delivered important projects and became a powerful member of professional institutions.
Hyogo Ashiya, A study on Uzo Nishiyama – Architecture as a Policy. (Osaka City University, 2013)
John Pendlebury, Erdem Erten, and Peter J. Larkham, Alternative Visions of Post-War Reconstruction: Creating the modern townscape. (New York: Routledge, 2014)
Yoshihiko Baba, ‘Modern or Unmodern?’ Understanding the landscape dispute of Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Station (2010)
Zhongjie Lin, Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan. (New York: Routledge, 2010)