Seeking to explore power as crucial factor in the design of the built environment, we will look at energy systems and related objects, from sites of generation to spaces of consumption, from distribution networks to control rooms.

Tutors: Filip Geerts and Sanne van den Breemer
Director of Studies: Salomon Frausto

Contributors: Santiago Ardila, Juan Benavides, Daniella Camarena, Stef Dingen, Marco Fusco, Jack Garay Arauzo, Theodora Gelali, Shaiwanti Gupta, Hao Hsu, Marianthi Papangelopoulou, Felipe Quintero, Gent Shehu, Siyuan Wang

Moku-chin Fire Belt

Failure of a system, HousingConsumption, National, Earthquake,
Construction, Governance, Illustration

The great fire of 1657, the Kantô earthquake of 1923 that melted large parts of Tokyo and the world war attacks in 1945 where the wind spread the fire; these disasters among others, have taught Tokyo to move from a culture of reaction to one of prevention. It is predicted that the next earthquake will happen, when? still unknown, could be a year, a decade or a century. Japan’s strategy focuses on developing plans from where to apply all the lessons from the past in order to protect the city and its inhabitants, and considers disaster prevention an integral part for sustainable development.
    The model for Disaster Prevention that has been used in Tokyo since 1981 considers “Moku-chin” apatos1 one of the most vulnerable parts of the city in case of an earthquake, the wooden structures, where people still use open gas flames instead of electric stoves, can easily catch fire. The plan contemplates the creation of boundaries around crowded neighborhoods of wooden houses, within those boundaries a commercial area arises as the solution for fire resistance buildings, creating an intense contrast between high rise areas and low residential ones. The plan for vulnerability assessment considers refuge bases, evacuation areas, escape routes. Many main roads in the commercial areas are designed to be networks for principal disaster reduction.2 
    Fires became an opportunity to redraw the map of the city, using fire protection legislation to transform the urban zoning. Japanese culture is a culture of catastrophe3 and Tokyo has learned through this process. With all the changes and adaptations Tokyo has suffered have made it a city in which re-organizing has become part of the economical model, creating a tight relation between endurance and land.

1. “Moku-chin” a traditional type of japanese apartment. “Moku”=”wooden” and “chin”=”rent”
2. Flüchter, Winfried. "Tokyo before the Next Earthquake: Agglomeration-Related Risks, Town Planning and Disaster Prevention." The Town Planning Review 74, no. 2 (2003): 213-38. Accessed March 17, 2020.
3. Liam Ross, A Hospitality to Risk: Fire and the Shaping of Contemporary Tokyo, 2016