(Tokyo 1965) INFLUENCES OF TOKYO PLAN: Reconstruction of Skopje Plan
The plan for Skopje represented a synthesis of his previous experience. There is a clear trend of embodiment in the notion of town planning that free communication between the separate parts should be the core and symbol of the modern town. This idea is expressed in the Skopje plan (fig1.1), in the perfect co-ordination of the road system with the architectural, where the system is adapted from the Plan of Tokyo.
The plan for Skopje demonstrated a continuity of Tange’s approach to city design where the primary concept he adopts as his solution is founded on the linear axis concentrating all urban functions related to communications and business operations that were a fundamental idea in the 1960 Plan for Tokyo (fig 1.2).
Tange’s proposal was based on two metaphorical concepts, the “city gate” and the “city wall”. The city gate, is literally a gate into the city, where new train stations and a gateway structure for highway entries to the city would be built. Similar to the composite transportation centre in Le Corbusier’s Ville Contemporaine, the city gate was characterised by the convergence of all traffic systems and served as the point of transition between regional traffic and local traffic (1). The concept of the “City gate” in Skopje joins the transportation centre with the central business district to form the city’s main axis. Like Tange’s previous urban projects, the plan for Skopje granted the city’s infrastructure monumental scale and sophisticated details that organised various transportation modes on a 3D system (fig 1.3).
The City wall, located at the intersection of old city axis and new city axis, emanating from the City gate, come together, to an area surrounded by high rise apartment buildings which heightens the urbanity of the Inner city centre (3).
Architectures in both the City gate and the City wall were characterised by the repetitive pattern combining cylindrical towers housing circulations and services and horizontal inhabitable spaces for residential or business uses (fig 1.5). What distinguished the Skopje plan from Tange’s earlier schemes lay in the symbolic meaning of the urban structures. The whole city was bound together with the symbolic concepts of its “city gate” and “city wall”, and through such metaphors of traditional urban elements, he hoped to establish a new order for the city that were destroyed by a severe earthquake.
By comparing his two monumental plans: the 1960 Plan for Tokyo and the 1965 Plan for Skopje, there is a significant transition in Tange’s attitudes toward historical context and locality. The Tokyo Project was dominated by a strong forward-looking aspiration, where he criticised the city’s existing organisation as a “closed structure”, obsolete and dysfunctional for a city of Tokyo’s magnitude (3). In Skopje, Tange turned to the construction of a “City Gate” and a “City Wall”, seeking to recover the meaning of a traditional town where the violent earthquake could not be less chaotic than the urban scene in Tokyo in 1960. However, instead of rebuilding the city, Tange tried to preserve the remaining structures in Skopje and used the City wall to frame the historic areas. It was successful in integrating the historic banks of the Vardar river with developing public buildings, shops, bridges and pedestrian squares. His transition to a more sophisticated approach to history and local conditions could be justified by the fact that the Skopje plan was proposed for actual implementation, rather than being a theoretical project like the Tokyo bay Plan.
I believe Tange has demonstrated his awareness of the cultural implication of urban structures and attempted to expand his language of urban design through employment of metaphorical and symbolic elements.
(1) Lin, Zhongjie. Kenzo Tange and the Metabolist Movement: Urban Utopias of Modern Japan. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, 2010. Print.
(2) Schalk, Meike. “The Architecture of Metabolism. Inventing a Culture of Resilience.” The Architecture of Metabolism. Inventing a Culture of Resilience (2014): n. pag. Web. 9 Dec. 2016. <file:///Users/JoyceLeung/Downloads/arts-03-00279%20(1).pdf>.
(3) Kenzo Tange, “Towards Urban Design” Japan Architect (Jan 1971), 31.
(4) Kenzo Tange, “From Architecture to Urban design”, Japan Architect (May 1967): 26.
(5) Kenzo Tange, A Plan for Tokyo, 1960: Toward a Structural Reorganization (Tokyo: Shikenchikusha, 1961), 12.
(6) Kenzo Tange, “Function, Structure and Symbol” in Udo Kultermann, ed., Kenzo Tange 1946 – 1969: Architecture and Urban design (Artemis Zurich: Verlag Fur Architektur, 1970), 245.