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What Would Jane Jacobs Think If She Sees Roppongi Hills In Japan?

1861 words - 7 pages

Roppongi Hills in Tokyo is often mentioned as one of the largest and most successful city renewal projects ever been made after the World WarⅡin Japan. The project started in 1984 and took about 17 years to complete it involving the city government, the developer Mori Building Co., and the residents living in the area. Just to complete the negotiations with 500 right holders who lived in the site, it took over 15 years for the developer. The concept of the renewal plan seems totally different from that of Jane Jacobs, but there is a point that is equivalent to her philosophy. The following arguments will examine how similar the philosophies of Mori Building and Jane Jacobs regarding a local community are and find out how unique methods the company took for completing such a huge project in modern Tokyo today.
Before examine the ideas of Mori Building and Jane Jacobs, revealing actual data and facts of Roppongi Hills would be beneficial for the readers who might not know what it looks like. Roppongi Hills is a mega-complex which includes office, apartments, shops, restaurants, cafés, movie theaters, a museum, a hotel, a major TV studio, an outdoor amphitheather, and several parks. It is located in the Roppongi district of Minato Ward and covers 11.6 hectares of the area. About 20,000 people work in the office, restaurants, and shops and 2,000 people live in the residential towers. On weekend, about 130,000 people visit the site (Matsutani). It features many latest earthquake-resistant technologies such as damping walls, green mass dampers, and emergency power generator systems. It also has a self-sustaining cogeneration and water supply systems so that it can function by itself even when a big earthquake hits. On the other hand, 25% of the site is covered with green, which eases the heat-island effect and make the temperature in the area 2-3℃ lower. It also has a huge 4,300 square-meter Japanese garden in it. Various kinds of cultural events and festivals are held at the stage and facilities almost every day. 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 about its immense and luxurious looks, but its enormously long and complicated process to compete the project which may be unimaginable for Jane Jacobs. Before examine her idea about the residents and community in the city, let’s briefly see how the redevelopment had been done in 17 years. In 1986, TV Asahi Co., which owned the main part of the location, decided to make a new headquarters building there and consulted Minato Ward Office and Mori Building Co. The Ward suggested that they should 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 emergency. After the district was designated as a redevelopment inducement area by Tokyo Metropolitan...

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