The Urban Core in Japanese Planning (1930s-1950s): Evolving Perceptions on the Spatial and Social Form of the Metropolitan Center on the Mainland and in the Colonies

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Abstract

The urban core was a key topic in postwar modernist architectural discussions and in urban planning debates internationally. The proposal by Tange Kenzo for a new urban center for atom-bombed Hiroshima was an iconic reference in the CIAM 8 debates at Hoddesdon, England, on the aesthetic and functional design of a community center. But these debates focused on modernism and on a select group of Japanese designers at the expense of questions about the core of the traditional Japanese city and about the works of Japanese urbanists and planners. In contrast to the CIAM modernists, a number of Japanese planners discussed the question of the core in debates on urban, regional, and national structures and in discussions on deconcentrating or decentralizing urban form. This article connects all of these conversations, first briefly investigating traditional Japanese urban form and the role of the core therein. It then considers three pre-war and war-time bodies of work on urban cores that are largely unknown outside
Japan but that influenced postwar rebuilding: respectively, proposals for new cities in Manchuria and for the rebuilding of the capital Tokyo, and reflections on the urban core by planner and theoretician Nishiyama Uzō. These proposals take a range of approaches to the urban core, parallel to Tange’s internationally recognized postwar designs and the modernist visions of the CIAM group. In conclusion, the article explores continuities and discontinuities in Japanese planning through the lens of the urban core and their relevance for the writing of global urban histories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalHistories of Postwar Architecture
Volume2017
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • Urban Core
  • Japanese Planning
  • Tange Kenzo
  • Nishiyama Uzō
  • Ishikawa Hideaki

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