1960 A plan for Tokyo: Influenced by other linear Urban Plans

Tange’s plan for Tokyo consist of two concepts, which is the floating city and the linear city. The first idea appeared in the 1950s, when there is a shortage in land due to rapid population growth in Tokyo city and congestion problem, a group of young architects (the Metabolist) proposed new urban planning schemes that utilized the Tokyo bay for inhabitant space by land reclamation. More detail could be found in narrative. Tange tries to create a new urban spatial order by adapting a system of linear development rather than the traditional radial centripetal system.

A. Soria y Mata Plan for Ciudad Linea

Img 1.1 A. Soria y Mata Plan for Ciudad Linea

The concept of linear development appeared by the end of 19th century. A. Soria y Mata was the pioneer who envisioned and promoted city development with linearity in his plan for Ciudad Lineal de Madrid in 1882. The idea of linearity was expressed by emphasizing main transportation route as backbone of the proposed urban layout. All other functions were arranged along that axis with defined width and indefinite length, intersected at certain intervals by secondary perpendicular streets. The layout consisted of large blocks with residential buildings surrounded by vegetation with commercial and public structures situated at intersections. [1] Soria y Mata believed that this type of development would eliminate many social problems caused by urban congestion. He managed to fund and realized his idea of Ciudad Lineal as a settlement in Madrid. [2] (Image 1.1) Tange’s plan was similar to Soria y Mata scheme, where the transportation was the foundation of the planning, and other functions such as residential and commercial building were aligned to the central axis.

Img 1.2 Le Corbusier, Projet Obus A, 1931

Le Corbusier also expressed great interest in the linear urban development. His plans for Algiers called Plan Obus (French for “cannon shell”) Img 1.2 and plans for Rio de Janeiro in 1930s, comprised of a multikilometer continuous megastructure with housing beneath elevated highway, a building-aqueduct-highway typology. [1] Tange who worked at Le Corbusier’s office was greatly influenced and he tried to bring in the concern of the rise of automobile and designed a cyclical transportation system for a civic axis that sustain urban life. Tange claim that this feature would allow continuous expansion of the city as there was no limit to the number of lines of the highway system and it is possible to add another phrase to extend the civic axis.

Img 1.3 Tokyo Bay Megastructure – Kenzo Tange

Does it work?
There are argument on the practicality of linear system. Perter Smithson, member of team 10, doubts on the feasibility of the system, ‘The classic disadvantage of the linear town is that it concentrates all movement along the central spine- all movement must proceed via that spine even when it has no business there’ In order there might be heavy congestion along the spine due to the concentration of activity along the spine. Also, once there is a traffic jam, the entire lane would be affected.
Essentially, in history of urban planning the linear concept of city development has been argued about internationally. Many urban planners and architects, like Kisho Kurokawa, Milyutin, found linearity as proper solution, yet interestingly there are not too many accomplished.


Work Cited

[1]Tijana Tufek- Memisevic, Ewa stachuraa.  linear city development under contemporary determinants

[2] Doxiadis C. A., On Linear Cities, The Town Planning Review, April 1967, Vol. 38 No. 1 pp. 35–42

[3] Grabrijan D. Neidhardt J. Arhitektura Bosne i put u suvremeno: Architecture of Bosnia and the way modernity, Državna založba Slovenije, Ljubljana, 1957


1 Comment on “1960 A plan for Tokyo: Influenced by other linear Urban Plans

  1. Linear urban plans are common to the master planning of post-war Japan. Another example is Uzo Nishiyama’s Plan for Kyoto 1964. His plan 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. I guess advantage of linear plan is the response to existing urban axises, and the convenience in dividing it into layers of functions.

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