Utilizing Vertical Space to Create a New Tokyo Overflowing with Greenery

In order to solve urban problems, eco-friendly urban development plans are underway that also combine the functions of an evacuation center in case of disaster. How will this urban development, which integrates a variety of city functions to a high degree, transform the future of Tokyo?
Panorama of the Toranomon-Azabudai Project, centered around three high-rise towers

Vertically-Layered Urban Functions Necessary in for Daily Life

Mori Building Co., Ltd, an urban developer based out of Minato City, Tokyo, is playing a central role in this massive urban development project, scheduled for completion in 2023 by an association Mori Building formed together with approximately 270 local rights holders. This is the Toranomon-Azabudai Project.

The project utilizes vertical space to incorporate a variety of urban functions necessary for everyday life in a multilayered fashion, including work, shelter, and play. In this way, the land in the city center and people's time spent there can be used effectively, realizing a more cultured and fulfilling lifestyle.

Although there's an impression of Minato City's Toranomon being an office district, the area is actually relatively rich with greenery.

Through the Toranomon-Azabudai Project, a lush green plaza will be at the center of a vast site of around eight hectares. Surrounding it will be office towers and residences. The building will also include commercial facilities, a medical facility, an international school, accommodation facilities, a museum, and a gallery. It truly will be a compact city, "a city within a city."

Compact cities also have the objective of revitalizing the Japanese economy outside of Tokyo by consolidating a variety of functions to create an environment that facilitates business and daily life for companies and individuals active globally, attracting people, goods, and money from around the world.

An illustrative image of the lush central plaza, boasting an area of rough 6,000 m2

An Eco-Friendly "Town You Can Escape To"

Another major feature of the Toranomon-Azabudai Project is its ability to address environmental issues such as climate change and resource recycling.

"We want to contribute to the realization of a sustainable society that will lead the future by promoting the coexistence of cities and nature, reduced carbonization of cities, and resource recycling," says Takeda Masahiro of the Uban Planning Department. Compared to conventional cities, Mori Building's urban model is expected to improve the ratio of green space to ground area by 30% and energy performance by 40%.

Further, the Toranomon-Azabudai Project will have an energy center to supply the development with energy for electricity and heat. The project aims to create a carbon-neutral city by adopting a cogeneration system that excels in both disaster prevention and eco friendliness, using renewable energy for 100% of the electricity supplied. In addition, the city has acquired international environmental certifications and has been objectively evaluated as both a "people- and environment-friendly city."

In terms of disaster prevention, a balance of high-strength steel and concrete has been used as the structural materials, and damping devices have been placed in locations where they can efficiently reduce shaking during earthquakes, giving the city a high degree of earthquake resistance.

"It's important not only to build earthquake-resistant buildings and towns, but to also manage and operate the intangible aspects, like caring for the people who work and live there and taking people in when they have difficulty returning home. By playing the role of a 'town that you can escape to' in terms of both the tangible and intangible, we'll become a fortress that protects the people living nearby," says Murata Yoshiyuki of the Development Department.

With Affection for Home and Hopes for Tokyo's Development

Mori Building's goal is to create cities in cooperation with local communities. At the root of this is Mori Building's affection for its hometown of Minato City, which plays a great part in the project.

Mori Building was founded as a result of its first president's experience during the Great Kanto Earthquake, which led to a desire to build towns that are safe and resistant to earthquakes. The Toranomon-Azabudai Project first came into being in 1989 and has been underway for 30 years, overcoming unprecedented events such as the collapse of the bubble economy, the Asian financial crisis, the IT bubble, the financial crisis following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, and the Great East Japan Earthquake.

"It has taken a long time, but over these 30 years, there was never any talk of scrapping the project. Seeing how society has changed over this period, I'm more and more convinced that our goal of creating cities that will remain intact 50 to 100 years from now hasn't been a mistake," says Murata.

In addition to love for its hometown, Mori Building is motivated by a desire to transform Tokyo into an international city that will once again be recognized by the rest of the world, and to win out against other international cities. In order to boost the Japanese economy, the company is working together with local residents to develop the city center, which forms its foundation.

Written by Abe Kimiko / Translated by Amitt