Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Non-International Landscape of Tokyo

By Chris Berthelsen

“In Japan, ‘public’ is more of a mental construct than a physical presence”[8] and the concept of ‘privacy’ has never taken hold[9]. The closest native Japanese approximation of private-public may be uchi (family, clan, group)-soto (that which is not uchi) where uchi extends the Western ‘private’ to ‘other private’ plus ‘public’ [10]. A history and present of close quarters, paper-thin walls and sliding doors that open onto the street evoke the permeation of daily life into public space[11]. Memory and current practice/conception regard whole neighbourhoods as ‘home’ [12], with parks as multifunctional common yards[13] [14].

The Japanese city can be characterised by use – (1) the perceived strength of the individual plot, (2) utilitarian public spaces, and (3) public space as a domain for temporary invasion and annexation[15]. Following, ‘modern life’ in Tokyo can be said to be ‘city affirming’ – exhibiting commitment and positive interest in personal level ‘feathering the urban nest’ [16] and so much like how the urban development of Edo/Tokyo took place around many scattered nuclei[17] so too the scattered nuclei of Tokyo’s informal gardens provide foundation for everyday humane life – the multilayered units of urban space growing more refined and human as they grow closer to the daily lives of the people of the city[18]. Tokyo uchi can thus be understood as a ‘place-by-place’ [19] plot-by-plot discontinuous and autonomous series of oases[20].

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more about urban Japan:

Design For Flooding: Architecture, Landscape, And Urban Design For Resilience To Climate Change

Hazard Mapping and Vulnerability Assessment 

GIS Infrastructure in Japan — Developments and Algorithmic Researches

The New Urbanism: Kichijoji Style 

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