Table Speech

Initiation Speech

December 2, 2009
Initiation Speech by Mr. Otsuka does not appear.

Mr. Mutsutake Otsuka
Mr. Yasuhiko Watanabe

“Situation of Overseas Construction and Development”

Mr. Yasuhiko Watanabe
Business Center Developing

 As I engaged myself in the redevelopment of Marunouchi district at Mitsubishi Estate, I visited many overseas architects and urban development experts. By getting to know their leading-edge ideas, I expected to forecast future trends in architecture, cities and cultures. Today let me talk about several impressive ones among them and their projects.

 Several years ago, Mr. Ton Schaap, Director of Amsterdam City Planning Department, suggested burying railways underground between Yurakucho Station and Tokyo Station to directly connect Yaesu and Marunouchi, and build parks and cultural facilities above them at ground level. Such attempts in Barcelona and Boston have contributed greatly to the environment. Highways were laid underground, which resolved traffic jams and secured spaces for greenery and cultural facilities.

 Reusing old buildings is noticeably popular these days, in this environment-conscious time. People were astonished when a three-story building was constructed on a narrow strip of land, over a 270-meter-long waste pier in a Dutch port. In Chicago, a ruined mosque was turned into a department store. The head-office of Adidas reused a ruined hospital.

 Mr. Amory Lovins is a scholar of environmental science, author of Natural Capitalism, and expert on construction materials and methods. When I visited his environmental research institute in the Rocky Mountains in winter, no electricity was used, yet people were in T-shirts.

 Harvard University Professor Joan Busquets was former director of Barcelona Development Department. As I saw many unconventional and singular buildings in Barcelona, I asked if building regulations exist there. He told me there are no such regulations. The super high-rise building with psychedelic colors, designed by the outstanding architect Mr. Jean Nouvel, seemed to symbolize this city free from regulations.

 Mr. Herzog is a world-famous architect with his novel design of Beijing Olympic Stadium, known as the “Bird’s Nest.” I found a strange asymmetric window model at his office, a fusion of design and efficiency, as I was told it ensured best energy-saving efficiency.

 The most unconventional of all was Mr. Rem Koolhaas, an architect famous for his publication Delirious New York. He is known for designing the radical shaped China Central Television Headquarters building, two high-rising buildings connected with a mid-air corridor protruded in a strange angle.

 Italian female architect Ms. Aulenti designed the Institute of Italian Culture Center at Chidorigafuchi, Tokyo. This controversial bright red building made us realize how color impacts all town planning.

 City planning from now on must take into consideration how to survive in the international competition among foreign cities. It is a challenge around the world to improve quality of cities through redevelopment, and those who are engaged in development will play a vital role.