Sam Bur takes us on a urban geography tour of Tokyo
Earlier this week Rob Mayo delivered a guest post on Japan’s transit system and how stations are used as destination places rather than ones of just travelling through (as Auckland does) (see: Guest Post: Turning passengers into shoppers – adopting a Japan-style public transport service model for Auckland).
In a ‘just-in-time’ coincidence resident Australian Cities Skylines Player and Planner Sam Bur released a video this morning on the Urban Geography of Tokyo – one of the World’s largest and most dense cities!
The video from Sam:
If you have been to or seen pictures of Tokyo you notice the grid street patterns connected with non-grid roads as the City continued to expand in a haphazard but also organic fashion. This is compared to North American cities (and Auckland post 1991) which seemed to have grown like (as we call it in Sim City 4 or Cities Skylines) ploppables to get some form of “perfection” or rather control.
As a side: In Sim City and Cities Skylines there were two dominate playing styles (that often triggered off very long winded debates in chat rooms):
- Organic using just the RCI (residential, commercial and industrial) zone tools.
- Plop everything (RCI buildings could be plopped by the player allowing the player to micro detail how the City is developed and control what goes where rather than let “city forces” do the development itself)
With the Organic city building style the basic premise was that you build some basic transport spines (arterial road or transit lines) then build offshoots from that spine and place down your RCI zones. When it was time to expand you basically just added more RCI to the edge of the previous expansion and if need be build a secondary transport spine. The result was a rather haphazard method of spatial development that would give its organic urban geographic appearance.
The basic premise of Plop Everything was that everything was minutely controlled from transport, civic infrastructure to what RCI buildings could go where. It would be rare for the City to to develop or expand on its on convolution. The City appearance could be grid or cul-de-sacs everywhere but the urban geography of the area is one of uniformity of the urban fabric rather than the rather interesting heterogeneous “mess” seen with organic urban geographies.
Tokyo has developed in the organic fashion that seems so haphazard and would look completely chaotic to those use to the North American “ploppable” way of urban geography. Yes this comes down to how each Authority treats their planning laws (Japan is very relaxed while American like New Zealand is very prescriptive)
Rather ironically and as Sam would point out Tokyo despite its organic urban geography keeps it all together and functions extremely well given its size. While in North America their cities with their “ploppable” urban geographies (apart from maybe the core of their oldest cities) seem to be a magnitude of chaos to the point urban and infrastructure decay/degradation grip them (requiring often fraught urban renewal and transit schemes) .
If you are wondering I prefer the organic urban geography style: