Virtual architecture walk through Tokyo

On 26 January 2021 Architectural Walking Tours group invited the WiB members to a virtual lecture: "TOKYO - Urban Planning on the Occasion of the 2021 Summer Olympics". Through his wonderful photographs, Architect and Author Ulf Meyer showed the extensive preparations and how the Japanese reinvent the capital city for the 32nd Summer Olympics.

Similar to the Tokyo Games in 1964, the competition is the occasion for urban redefinition and the construction of the new and architecturally even more remarkable sports venues. Most of the competitions will take place within a radius of eight kilometers from the Olympic village. Within this radius, the sports venues are spread across the Heritage Zone in the north to the Tokyo Bay Zone in the south. Many sports venues from 1964 will still be utilized in addition to the new construction projects and temporary buildings, although they will not be used for the same kind of sports. This smart, sustainable "recycling" prevents what so-called "white elephants”: the empty standing buildings that no longer have useful purpose. Of course, it has to be taken into account that today, there are much stricter requirements for buildings, for example the issues regarding environmental protection in Japan, safety in general and especially guidelines for earthquake protection.

The lecture focused on the New National Stadium "Shin kokuritsu kyôgijô" in Tokyo's Kasumigaoka district, designed by the Japanese star architect, Kengo Kuma. It is located at the same site where the Olympic Games were opened in 1964. Actually, a stadium designed by Architect Zaha Hadid - who then died - should have been built here. However, due to the too futuristic design and the high construction cost, Kengo Kuma's design was realized taking into account both the economic and ecological aspects. The architecture reflects Japanese influence that the building should be in harmony with the nature and the open facade is structured as canopies so-called "engawa" (Japanese terraces). They create the connection between inside and outside. The building is characterized by Japanese wooden elements and shady green areas. Wood as a traditional material is combined with new technology, for example in the form of wood-coated steel panels and steel pipes. Our expert architect presented other new fascinating sports facilities with their architectural innovations. Further worth knowing information such as  the exemplary Japanese railroad system was also described.

This is the third group virtual meeting. During the first meeting, Ulf Meyer talked about the architecture of the internationally famous I.M. Pei; and the second meeting was about sustainable building for example the wooden house in Christburger Straße 13 in Prenzlauer Berg. It is still uncertain when the group can meet in person again for an architectural walk in Berlin. But the members keeps the hope up and are looking forward to it.

All Images © Ulf Meyer