Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lessons on Land Economics

Upon entering the utopian dystopia that is Japan, there is a realisation that this place is not like any other, there is order to the chaos, with small urban agricultural farms intertwined with skyscrapers.

Although I can not comment on Japanese planning in terms of an administrative context, I can talk about my observations, Shinjuku is a series of 1970’s concepts that appear to be frozen in time, which were world firsts at the time. This region is in the process of an architectural redevelopment, with developers capitalising on 0% finance rates to justify ‘drilling further into the sky’ in their quest to increase the floorspace of each building, which ultimately aides the economic viability of the buildings that they own and manage.

The successful development of Tokyo as a megacity in the 21st century has been helped by the meticulous planning of the metro rail system, from both JR snd the private providers.  This integration has enabled fluid movement of individuals to and from their places of employment and their homes. 

In Tokyo, development decisions are based around many criteria, but one that stands out is Land Economics. The Land economics of development force the developer to drill further into the sky in the search for economic viability in development.


Regional cities in Japan is not immune to this development, Sendai and Osaka both feature high rise development. Sendai has had other issues such as the impacts of 2011 tsunami, the sprawl seen along the Japanese coastline. The prefecture described as Natori was damaged beyond recognition, this has ultimately led to the construction of a seawall and abnormal move to raise the land height above sea level by 15cm, these bold moves are creating a barrier between the physical place of the beach and the space that it represented to the residing population. As Norbert Wiener said, “we have modified our environment so radically that now we must modify ourselves to exist in this environment.

Tim Norden