- The City of the Future (1960)
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[End Page 152]
I. The City's Renewal and Transformation
The particular character of contemporary cities resides in their daily change and dynamic movement. Among them, the forcefulness of Tokyo's renewal and transformation remains unparalleled.1 It is from within such movement and transfiguration that the image of the future city will be revealed.
In recent years, everyone seems to be suddenly discussing urban planning; I am worried, however, by the way the expression "urban planning" is used in such debates and how it recalls the image of a systematically organized, checkerboard-like city. Even among urban planners we frequently encounter this stereotype. Yet, for example, if we were to build here a city like Brasilia—the often-discussed capital of Brazil—because Japan is undergoing many changes including the concentration of its population, such city's urban form would inevitably shift from what was originally projected and would become something completely different. Likewise, the city of the future will embrace disorder and it must discover within confusion a new organizing principle for future construction.
We must acknowledge that these words from developing India's Jawaharlal Nehru are exceedingly apt:2
Our urban population is growing fast and our cities are expanding, usually without any order or method. This is already producing grave problems in these cities in addition to those that already existed, such as slums. In fact, new slums are being constantly created. It is of great importance to prevent this at its very inception and to have a well thought out plan of the city as it should be ten or fifteen years from now. If this plan is in place, every step taken should be to implement that plan. Delay is harmful. […] An approach to this problem should be conceived by expert town planners and this planning will have to be a continuous process. That is to say, a plan when made, should not be considered as the end of planning. The [End Page 153] implementation of it is also part of that planning. […] In a great and growing city, there must be this continuous planning.3
In Nehru's speech, the city of the future does not appear as a grid-like "whole"(zentai-zō). Even if we were similarly to propose a vision for the future, we would not argue for the actualization of this proposal as is. Indeed, we believe this should not happen. For, in the end, such vision for the future city is but one part of an image, a direction being argued for—a proposal for a method. In the development of a city, an "endpoint" (shūketsu) is impossible. If it reached its endpoint, the completed city would immediately become a ruin.
And yet neither do we reject the "ruin" (haikyo). If we, "today" (gendai), resolved that something must be saved―in other words, if we were able to acquire a strong mindset that made us resolved to leave things for posterity, that is once we created our own "mythos" (shinwa)― it would be fine to build ruins calling forth on a future civilization. But such "mythoi" do not yet exist. And therefore we are not qualified to build "ruins." What we must be most wary of is believing in banal "mythoi" and thus building banal "ruins." These would offer nothing but a stoppage on future development.
Rather, for us today, the complete vision of a finalized city—that so-called master plan—must be rejected. What we need instead is a "continuing program": a condensed program, or in other words a master program. It wouldn't be enough even if we went as far as to say that "completion is but one part of the plan" (sore ga kansei sareru to iu koto mo keikaku no ichi-bubun). Neither should it be...