Tokyo perspective by Kazuya Urakawa
Signed copies of this 55 copies only – sold out book
The relation between scrap-and-build and the memory-loss for the city is comparable to two sides of the same coin
Looking at cityscapes in Tokyo, I often feel as if the city has fallen into a state of amnesia. This feeling is awoken by the scrap-and-build approach that Tokyo has repeated more frequently than any other city in the world, whether due to man-made factors or otherwise. In particular, the twin catastrophes of the Great Kanto Earthquake (1923) and the Great Tokyo Air Raid (1945) and the subsequent reconstructions thereafter are two of the chief causes.
However, scrap-and-build has been accelerated by economic motives in pursuit of rationality and efficiency since the 1980s, when Japan enjoyed the bubble economy, we commonly see the buildings demolished as young as 50 years old. In contrast, facing a vacant lot after a building was demolished, we cannot remember the building that used to stand there. This indicates not only that buildings truly fall into oblivion after their demolition but also that we don’t take note of them in the city in a meaningful way. Although architecture is generally regarded as an art, I feel that people may not think so in Japan.
The relation between scrap-and-build and the memory-loss for the city is comparable to two sides of the same coin, and the excessively frequent scrap-and-build approach overtakes the accumulation of memory. I suppose that the memory-lost city can never retrieve those lost memories and will, therefore, lose singularity ― lose itself.