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Aerial map of cityscape with train station, on cover of 'Emergent Tokyo: Designing the Spontaneous City', by ORO Editions.

Emergent Tokyo

Designing the Spontaneous City

By (author) Jorge Almazán
By (author) Studiolab


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  • Unlike much of the existing writing on Tokyo that emphasises its oriental uniqueness and mysterious urban chaos, this richly illustrated book offers both visitors and specialists an unparalleled understanding of the surprising yet comprehensible design principles that explain Tokyo's most permeable, vibrant, and adaptive urban patterns
  • Emergent Tokyo addresses a wide range of the city's critical topics and pervasive urban patterns, many of which are rarely mentioned in English-language discussions of the city
  • Contains up-to-date information that captures the city's latest phenomena and bases its core arguments on brand-new primary research
  • Sheds light on this neglected yet essential urbanism, explaining the role that such features play in Tokyo's thriving urban ecosystem and situating them within an overall theory of emergent urbanism
Full Description

“A clearly articulated manifesto for those trying to preserve Tokyo’s emergent properties, Emergent Tokyo helps distil lessons for other cities”

—Benjamin Bansal, Urban Studies Journal

This book examines the urban fabric of contemporary Tokyo as a valuable demonstration of permeable, inclusive, and adaptive urban patterns that required neither extensive master planning nor corporate urbanism to develop. These urban patterns are emergent: that is, they are the combined result of numerous modifications and appropriations of space by small agents interacting within a broader socio-economic ecosystem. Together, they create a degree of urban intensity and liveliness that is the envy of the world’s cities.

This book examines five of these patterns that appear conspicuously throughout Tokyo: yokocho alleyways, multi-tenant zakkyo buildings, undertrack infills, low-rise dense neighbourhoods, and the river-like ankyo streets. Unlike many of the discussions on Tokyo that emphasise cultural uniqueness, this book aims at transcultural validity, with a focus on empirical analysis of the spatial and social conditions that allow these patterns to emerge. The authors of Emergent Tokyo acknowledge the distinct character of Tokyo without essentialising or fetishising it, offering visitors, architects, and urban policy practitioners an unparalleled understanding of Tokyo’s urban landscape.

About the Author

Jorge Almazán is a Spanish architect based in Tokyo and an associate professor at Keio University. His office, Jorge Almazán Architects, is committed to environmentally responsible and socially inclusive projects spanning from interiors and architecture to urban and community design.

Studiolab is a research and design unit led by Jorge Almazán at Keio University. Engaging students, researchers and external collaborators, Studiolab combines rigorous academic research in the form of thesis and journal papers with real urban interventions and architectural projects.

Look Inside
ORO Editions
10th Jun 2022
Paperback / softback
World excluding USA, Canada, Australasia & Asia (except Japan; China non-exclusive)
198 mm x 140 mm
224 Pages
230 color
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