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Tokyo’s Non-Intentional Landscape[1]

“..the whole city, like a mosaic or a kaleidoscope, sparkled with myriad different images created by the particularity of individual locales, their terrain, and their histories.” (Jinnai, 1995:159)

“…a world of artistic harmony born amid confusion.” (Nagai Kafu, from Hiyori geta (Clogs for Bad Weather) quoted in Jinnai, 1995: 128)

“More than a city, I think I saw it as a landscape” (Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA) on his first impressions of Tokyo as a child living in the outer Tokyo suburbs of Kawasaki and Hachioji) “A collection of living organisms….an extremely organic landscape, and that’s something I rate very highly” (on his present impression of Tokyo as a democratic landscape, in Kitayama, 2010d: 101, 103)

“What if…. God, out of love and kindness for us, is slowly transmuting it, slowly and secretly, into something real?” (Dick, 1978)[2])


Like all organic systems, cities fare better without central planning[3]. In Tokyo the complex of a heritage of scattered ownership in the context of egg-and-shell /pie-and-crust (Tsukamoto’s 2010:34 ‘Urban Village’ see also Jinnai, 1995) collage patchwork city form scattered by successive inheritance-tax induced subdivisions (Tsukamoto, 2010) PLUS the Shinto-Buddhist spirit AND the understanding of the uchi-soto conception of relation & space is the constant logic of the unselfconscious process (Alexander, 1964) of continuous adaptation & piecemeal building[5] gardeners who make do[6] with their heterogeneous repertoire[7] of resources[8] to explore connections and new uses through action[9] [10] according to the suggestive qualities of urban space[11].

Non-metamorphic thus built for learning (e.g. Wiener, 1954:55).

Organic/bottom-up generation vs. mechanized/top-down fabrication – Salingaros et al., 2010).


[1] Ref also Nagasaka’s (in Maki, 2000a:36) notion of ‘synergy-scape’, a city without constant form. Ashihara (1989:57-68)’s Amoeba City – growing and flourishing in fits and starts, amorphous sprawl and constant change.

[2] Discussing Plato’s Timaeus.

[3] Salingaros, et al. 2010:61; and e.g. the work of Geoff West.

[4] Alexander et al., 1977. But piecemeal does not imply incomplete or something that is meaningless alone. A “whole” is something complete in itself that requires no further addition. In fact, however, such absolute wholes and parts do not exist. The “whole” organisms or bodies in society are actually “sub-wholes”, intermediate entities that are parts in a multi-level hierarchy that grows increasingly complex (Ashihara, 1989:94).

[5] E.g. Lourida (1999) in Wakkary and Maestri (2008)

[6] Make do, makeshift only in the most pedantic sense. It is rather than a form of raw material has been found in the right place. It has been put to a use that might otherwise be unborn (Jacobs, 1993:254).

[7] E.g. Levi-Stauss Cited in Lefaivre (2004:2)

[8] TOOLS, Zeug: the tools, equipment, useful things that play a role in being-in-the-world – Heidegger’s (Being and Time) Besorgen: heeding or taking care, the concernful dealing with the world that gives form to human existence.

[9] Wakkary and Maestri (2008: 12) see also Bamyeh (2009) re: action and Di Francia, (1982:234-5) re: free development of creativity and use of materials.

[10] Which “discloses creative potentialities hidden by our consumer culture” the meaning of which “will not be found [solely] in the final result…but in the….possibilities for recovering the individual’s creative attitude in dealing with his environment, whether physical or not” (F. Riggi discussing the investigations of Riccardo Dalisi quoted in Di Francia, 1982:234).

[11] Alexander et al. (1977:654, CHILDREN’S REALM (137)).

[12] De Francia (1982:236 discussing Global Tools).