Book: Urban Regeneration in Tokyo: Key Urban Redevelopment Projects
In the first chapter of this book, it talks about the sharing mode of urban development and redevelopment in Tokyo, giving a clearer background for the field of urban planning right before and after the burst of the bubble economy in 1991.
Late 20th Century: Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
Transit Oriented Development was originated in the 1910s to 1930s, when some real estate companies tried to develop the rural with building mass transit systems travelling to cities. They introduced a package of composite functions the stations including large supermarkets, entertaining facilities and residential blocks, resulting in more urbanization and enterprise development. This mode was adopted in Japan and became the dominating mindset in the following urban designs.
In the 1990s, many large shopping malls and outlets were built along the rural highways, undermining the traditional retailing streets in the urban districts. With aging population and population decline added to the big picture, people thought that TOD should be sustained or even strengthened in order to restore energy in the cities. Meanwhile, due to the deficit in running the mass transit systems, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) sold out leftover lands to the private companies and established rewarding policies in the large-scale urban renewal projects. This led to a surge of tendering and the majority was eager to boost the competitiveness of Japan in the international stage through these constructions. Ironically, due to the overestimated rise of land values, the speculating deals of land became hot-headed and the burst of the bubble economy finally arrived in 1991.
After the burst of the bubble economy,
There are two fields of focus for the future of Tokyo: improve the convenience of public transportation to deal with congestion and prioritizes the redevelopment planning according to their pragmatic contribution to the society, quality over quantity. Stepping into the 21st century, the TOD planning of Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown and Odaiba were all finally embodied.
The rise of Bottom-up interference: Rewarding floor area ratio policy
In Tokyo, TMG has the responsibility to establish a regulation in urban design to secure and quantify the public interests, including public spaces, open greenery, footbridges, sunk plaza and widened pedestrians. In return, the government would need to reward floor area ratio to the private companies, which are in charge of the redevelopment projects, if they can offer such measures. On the other hand, any nominated proposals would still need to be publicly assessed through the City Planning Council of Tokyo and the reward would not be offered until the decision notice of city planning is published. The policy reflects that, the tool for stimulating economic growth (or resolving urban problems) was highly regulated and appreciated. It helped a lot in the city regeneration but also foreshadowed the collapse of the bubble economy due to the linear and overly optimistic policies established by TMG.
Although TMG held a lot of responsibility in their political decisions which might lead to the burst of the bubble economy, it is questionable whether the citizens had voiced their individual thoughts about the health of the city and not just made money out of the government’s policies.
Institute of Architecture and Urban Space of Tongji University, and NIHON SEKKEI, INC. Urban Regeneration in Tokyo: Key Urban Redevelopment Projects. Shanghai: Tongji University Press, 2019.