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Roppongi Hills Essay

2031 words - 8 pages

Roppongi Hills in Tokyo is often mentioned as one of the largest and most successful city renewal projects that have ever been made after World WarⅡin Japan. The project started in 1984 and took about 17 years to complete. The plan involved the city government, the land developer Mori Building Co., and the residents living in the construction area. Just to reach agreements with 500 right holders, the company had spent over 15 years (“Roppongi Hills.”). The concept of the renewal plan seems totally opposite from that of Jane Jacobs, but there is a point in the history of this Roppongi renewal plan that is equivalent to her philosophy. Jane Jacobs’ idea regarding a local community in the city was accidentally realized in the process of building the Roppongi Hills half a century later in Japan.
Roppongi Hills are one of the largest and most gorgeous mega-complexes in Japan. They include offices, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheater, and several parks. They are located in the Roppongi district of Minato Ward and cover 11.6 hectares of the area. About 20,000 people work in the offices, restaurants, and shops and 2,000 people live in the residential towers. On weekends, about 130,000 people visit the site (Matsutani). They feature many of the latest earthquake-resistant technologies such as damping walls, green mass dampers, and emergency power generator systems. They also have a self-sustaining cogeneration and water supply system so that they can function by themselves even when a big earthquake hits (“Safety and Security”). 25% of the site is covered with green, which eases the heat-island effect and makes the temperature in the area 2-3 degrees C lower. They also have a huge 4,300-square-meter Japanese garden (“Environment and Greenery”). Various kinds of cultural events and festivals are held at the stage and facilities almost every day (“Urban Design”). The site provides almost everything that a person needs for living and working in Tokyo.
The most distinct feature of Roppongi Hills, however, is not their immense and luxurious looks, but the enormously long and complicated process to compete the project which may be unimaginable for Jane Jacobs. In 1986, TV Asahi Co., which owned the main part of the location, decided to make a new headquarters building there and consulted the Minato Ward Office and Mori Building Co. The Ward suggested that they should also redevelop the surrounding area since it was packed with wooden houses, small apartments, and condominiums with narrow streets which made it difficult for fire engines to come into the area in an emergency. After the district was officially designated as a redevelopment inducement area by Tokyo Metropolitan Government in the same year, Mori Building started to negotiate with the residents there. According to Mori Building, their first contact with the residents was totally unwelcoming. Most of the...

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