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Urban Asias – Essays on Futurity Past and Present

24 I. Futures

24 I. Futures Past For all these reasons, Tokyo has long been the primary subject of radical urban visions in Japan. The evolution of plans for Tokyo Bay, and the ways they influenced actual patterns of development is one major example of the role of future visions in shaping the Japanese capital. Radical Visions for Tokyo Bay One of the most extraordinary products of the rapid economic growth period was a series of grandiose plans for the development of Tokyo Bay. The first of these was the Neo-Tokyo Plan of 1958 by architect Masato Otaka, who proposed filling in most of the bay and the creation of a new city including central rail station, airport, and large-scale commercial, 2.1 The Neo Tokyo Plan of 1958 Source: Sorensen, 2002, p. 190, adapted from Samuels (1983: Figure 5-4).

25 FUTURE VISIONS OF TOKYO THAT MATTERED industrial and housing facilities (see Figure 2.1). 9 This plan was not built, but it was influential, inspiring a number of famous proposals for building in the bay, such as Tange’s Plan for Tokyo plan discussed below, and some major elements of the plan were completed in the 2000s, such as the expressway link directly from Kisarazu to Tokyo called the Aqualine, the bay shore loop expressway, and extensive shoreline landfilling for industrial complexes. But much better known is Tange’s “Plan for Tokyo” of 1960 that elaborated Otaka’s basic concept. Tange’s plan consisted of three main elements. First was a “civic axis” that projected a pair of parallel transportation corridors from the Imperial Palace in central Tokyo south-east across Tokyo Bay to Kisarazu, with railways and expressways on either side of a core of megastructure office complexes conceived as interconnected towers elevated on stilts rising from a landfill park. On either side of that central axis would be housing arranged in perpendicular spines that connected residents to the civic axis by monorail. Prefabricated housing units would be stacked on giant frames and would incrementally “grow” out from the axis indefinitely. The third element was the huge areas of landfill around the shores of Tokyo Bay, that would be used for industrial and residential uses and park space, with a pair of airports projecting from the shore nearest Tokyo. 10 Tange was closely associated with, but not a member of the Metabolist architecture movement, which was developing a parallel project. The Metabolist movement was a product of the 1950s rapid economic growth period. The Metabolist Manifesto was first presented at the 1960 World Design Conference in Tokyo in May. The Metabolists, including architects Kiyonori Kikutake, Kisho Kurokawa, Masato Otaka, and Fumihiko Maki sought to create a radical new approach to urbanism that relied on megastructures with integrated residential, retail, employment and mobility functions in new, industrially engineered, and mass produced forms. 11 Following the lead of Kikutake, who had earlier published designs for a “tower city” and “marine city”, and who wrote much of the Manifesto, many of the proposals featured schemes to build megastructures into the sea, either floating clusters of platforms, or as towers rising from the sea floor. 12 Whole new cities were to be created as mass-produced, pre-fabricated components, clipped to large scale, high-tech public infrastructure systems. The rejection of existing urban space is central to the Metabolist project, as this allowed the architects to imagine an entirely new form of urban space and property, unconstrained by historical legacies of land ownership, infrastructure, patterns of everyday life, and service delivery. Like other modernists such as Le Corbusier, the Metabolists rejected the analysis of ex-