The multi-scale approach in assessing the lived quality of Kitazawa Greenway in Tokyo.

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Submission Summary
The most severe impacts of the crisis are unfolding in cities, and Tokyo as one of the world largest with almost 14 million residents is, at an even higher risk. Thus, the relevancy in the explorations of how to make our cities more self-sufficient, livable and just is prime at this moment in history. The unique Japanese context of shrinking economy and population, the heightened risk of natural disasters (Ohno,2018) combined with the current environmental crisis and the pandemic-increased need for public spaces, makes it inevitable to reconsider the role of the open shared spaces in the city. The megapolis of Tokyo was once a city on water and everyday life was intertwined with its rich water network. Since its formation up until the end of Edo (old name of Tokyo) the city has been compared to Venice and Amsterdam in Europe. Unfortunately, the connection with water was lost due to the rapid urban growth of the city, especially after the Olympics in 1964 when many of the rivers and streams were covered by roads and now remain as hidden waterways. Based on the words from the renowned architectural historian Hidenobu Jinnai: “Water was deeply ingrained not only in industry but also entertainment in the Edo era...most places where people came together were near water. Since, we in the present have more advanced technologies, we could restore greenery and water in an appropriate way to create spaces that would be unique to a near-future Tokyo, if a goal were properly set” ( There are over 100 water streams in Tokyo but a significant part of them are covered. Today they represent a phenomenon in the urban fabric, a common sight for locals and take a significant part of the city's blue and green infrastructure grid. The route of most of those ancient streams is accompanied by endless kilometers of pedestrian and biking paths regarded as’’ green ways'', some are turned into streets and their tributaries into narrow and dark pedestrian pathways. They bear specific social, cultural and time conditions. An emerging trend in the exploration of the network of hidden waterways is eminent in Tokyo but while the existing literature is focusing on the origin and classification of those elements, there is a general lack of their qualitative understanding. This study fills the knowledge gap by assessing the meaning that goes beyond the given function of the culvert- the Lefebvrian lived quality. Kitazawa Greenway, a locally beloved culvert-turned-greenway in Setagaya ward is the case study. Space production in the micro, mezzo and macro scales is “read” trough categories of System, Change, Time, Typography, Speed of Observation, Perception, Nature of Water and Movement. Data is gathered using extended field work, map analysis, literature review and open-ended questionnaires with knowledgeable people. The hypothesis is that Kitazawa Greenway as a corridor of movement and information, represents a connector between different “machi”(small towns) leading to ‘extended neighborhood’ phenomena in the broader area where it flows. In the context of Tokyo the network of the covered waterways plays a vital role in strengthening communities.
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5: Uniqueness and connectivity. Al-Baraha: unlocking urban futures
PhD student
Meiji University Tokyo

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