plaza

Sunflowers blooming in fall outside JR station

十月にヒマワリを見たから、驚いた。日本に来たオランダの友達によると、アムステルダムはもう冬みたいだそうです。駅周りに小さい森を作るといいと思います。今のところ、このヒマワリたちが素敵な気晴らしになっています。

I was surprised to see these sunflowers blooming in late October. Dutch visitors @tanemaki2011 reminded me that in Europe it’s already early winter, with temperatures already reaching 0 degrees. For an Amsterdam resident, Tokyo fall is like summer yet better.

There’s currently a lot of construction around the Nakano JR station, with new bus areas, exits, and plazas to support an enormous high-rise office building and tall residential towers. I hope they will radically rethink the public space around the station. It’s the center of communal life, yet now mostly revolves around autos, asphalt, and concrete. It would be great to see a livelier meeting place.

A mini-forest would be inviting. In the meantime, this small field of sunflowers is a welcome distraction.

Wildness beside a busy subway platform

In Yotsuya, the Marunouchi subway pops out of ground in central Tokyo. From the platform, there is this amazing view that includes a still functioning, although rarely used service road, an abandoned bus stop and plaza gradually returning to the wild, and a border of exuberant independent plants. There is something beautiful to glimpse this inefficient use of space and so much lush greenery in the midst of a dense city.

Dead space plaza in front of Koenji JR station

Koenji is one of my favorite Tokyo neighborhoods: full of cool small businesses, great food, live music, Itoh Toyo’s new theatre ZaKoenji, and many places to explore. But the plaza in front of the Koenji station is unbelievable ugly and full of dead space.

Apart from the thinnest border of flowering azaleas and a few sparse trees, the space is mostly dedicated to cars and buses, with a large concrete plaza that is difficult to access. This enormous public space is impermeable to rainwater and unwelcoming for resting or socializing.

Given how walkable the neighborhood is and how many people arrive in Koenji by transit, it is a lost opportunity to create a great public space focused on residents and visitors. Redesigning this entry point to the neighborhood could be low cost and high impact.