My Tokyo Local Fruits partners Chris Berthelsen and Jessica Mantell and I responded to an open call from Limno, an independent Italian research center that investigates landscapes. They included us in their elegant book 76 Pounds and XVI Coins (76 Libbre e XVI Soldi) that investigates the cultural and natural layers of Venice’s Forte Marghera, built by Austrian and French invaders. Our article on Tokyo Local Fruit ends the book.
Last month Australia’s smlwrld‘s Bianca and Lucas invited me to go with them on a walking adventure in Shibaura. They took some great photos and wrote up a post calling Shibaura “an infrastructure theme park.”
I’d only been once before, drawn to see the new cultural space Shibaura House. This second time, in addition to stopping back at Shibaura House, we explored the neighborhood and were stunned by the mix of uses being made of these small man-made islands criss-crossed with canals.
There are many water works facilities, a giant incinerator, docks for shipping and at least one re-purposed warehouse named Tabloid, offices from the 70s and 80s, newer apartment towers, industrial buildings, a cement factory, elevated monorail, and the base of the Rainbow Bridge. The top photo shows party boats and a fishing boat, alongside offices and residences.
The water works facilities include sludge, sewage, treatment, and pumping. It seems like most of Tokyo’s plumbing ends up being processed and then released into Tokyo Bay in Shibaura. It’s something to think of when using a sink or toilet, or imagining what happens to the sewers during a heavy rainstorm. Below is a map showing five water work facilities.
I like how on this very official map, someone has written “これ？” (here?) with an arrow pointing to the giant round entrance ramp to Rainbow Bridge. I’ll post more photos in the coming days from this walk.
Which books define a Japanese cultural outlook on nature and landscapes? A perspective PhD student wrote to me asking about scholarly works that would allow a comparison with England. Is there a Japanese counterpart to Raymond Williams and William Hoskins, author of The Making of the English Landscape?
I am equally curious to hear what Tokyo Green Space readers know about this topic. So please help this perspective graduate student and share your favorite in the blog comments. Thank you!
My name is Jennifer Jane Riddle, and Mr. Braiterman has kindly allowed me to introduce myself and use his blog space in order to ask readers about any texts or articles by Japanese authors that address spaces and landscapes in Japan. I am currently applying to various PhD programs in the United States, and my goal is to examine how cultural attitudes towards natural spaces are cultivated and understood and how cultural values affect the way in which countryside spaces are used. Comparatively, I am looking at the countryside of England and English authors, such as Raymond Williams, who wrote about British culture in relation to nature and the English countryside. I am also using more anthropological centered works, as well, such as the landscape histories of William Hoskins. As for works on Japan, I have read Jinnai Hidenobu’s work on Tokyo, and I am looking for similar writers, anthropologists, or theorists who write about Japanese relationships to countryside spaces, nature, and the environment. If anyone who enjoys this blog is aware of any Japanese scholars, past or present, who focus on culture, space and place in such a way, I would love to know more.
Thanks to Mr Bas Valckx, who works in culture and design affairs at the Netherlands embassy, last month I had the great pleasure of meeting Mr Ito Masaru, who has created Shibaura House as the headquarters of his advertising agency, Kohkokuseihan, and a new community space between Rainbow Bridge and Tamachi station in Minato-ku.
The building, designed by prominent Japanese architect Sejima Kazuyo of SANAA and completed in the summer of 2011, is as stunning as one could imagine: floor to ceiling glass walls, each floor plate unique, a form that combines transparency, simplicity, and elegance. There’s a sizable roof and three outdoor areas, a rectangular balcony and two curvy, double height voids.
But I was even more impressed by Mr Ito’s vision for work, community, and art. He kindly gave Bas and me a tour, which included rental areas, his company’s office, meeting spaces, and a ground floor cafe open to the public. Mr Ito is extremely knowledgable about urban planning, art history, and even permaculture.
His reason for creating Shibaura House and his plans for its future are inspiring and unconventional. He told me that his motivation for creating Shibaura House was to create the very opposite of the advertising business that he runs. And while he is pleased with how the building turned out, he is eager now to make it more alive, with more soil, people, and activity.
Too often, even in Silicon Valley, I have seen companies seek to wall themselves off from neighbors and outsiders. Global icons like Facebook, Google and Apple locate their employees in office parks, making their facilities off limits to non-employees and promoting secrecy over collaboration. I think Mr Ito’s bold vision suggests new ways to use real estate, to operate a company, and to become a vital part of local neighborhoods.
The neighborhood context is very diverse and layered: close to canals and the Tokyo Bay, near a main water processing facility, and neighbors with a variety of architectural styles from post-war, 70s residential, to more recent projects. As Bas reminded me, the area is reclaimed land from Tokyo Bay from the Edo period.
I’d love to see more plants, wildlife, and agriculture at Shibaura House. Things like bee hives, chicken coops, urban satoyama plants. It would also be great to see Shibaura House engage its neighbors with with local food, plants, and wildlife habitat connecting buildings and waterways with green walls, roofs, and sidewalks. I am eager to see how Shibaura House grows and takes shape in the coming years.