The Tokyo International Urban Design studio kicked off in January with a series of lectures that explored Tokyo’s architecture and planning legacy under the broader theoretical framework of urban metabolism. Urban metabolism is a model that facilitates the description and analysis of the flow of materials and energy within cities. It provides researchers with a metaphorical framework with which to study the interactions of natural and human systems in specific regions.

During the first four weeks of the studio we examined key efforts and iconic proposals over time and traced how the city was shaped and evolved with time. The series culminated with group discussions to understand the goals and visions the city foresees and country foresees for itself.

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Agriculture City, Kisho Kurokawa, 1960
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Marine City designed by Kiyonori Kitutake, 1963

In order to understand our Misono site, we first chose to investigate Downtown Tokyo and treat it as a living laboratory. Creating maps and models of Downtown Tokyo enabled us to learn technical skills required to analyze the urban form, explore the urbanscape and familiarize ourselves with the urban grain of Tokyo.

The studio group was divided into four teams: Performance Modeling (PM), Conceptual design (CD), Smart City Computing (SC) and Community Engagement (CE).

During the first four weeks of study the SC team explored concepts and case studies that incorporated technologies to empower and improve people and their public spaces. The PM and CD teams broke down the area into three scales, Tokyo metropolitan area, ward level and a finer neighborhood level. The PM explored new Geographic Information System (GIS) tools to understand parameters such as landuse, public spaces, residential density, water features and wetlands etc. The different mapping exercises revealed the different interactions at the city scale. The CD team selected 4 neighborhoods with distinct identities, which they analyzed based on density, grain, use, and street hierarchy. At the end of the exercise, we familiarized ourselves with downtown Tokyo and prepared to apply our new skills and observations in the Misono site.

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Land Use Zoning (left); Building Use (right)
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Street Typology in Otemachi Ward in Downtown Tokyo
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