THE ROLE OF URBAN DESIGN IN CREATING A “PLACE”
Keywords:place identities, Japan, social housing, urban design, placemaking
In the backdrop of post-war economic growth and rapid urbanisation in Japan (late 1950s to early 1970s), many large-scale developments took place in suburban areas to counteract the critical situation of housing shortages. These social housings, referred to as “danchi,” which were suburban residential community with multi-family apartment blocks became a defining characteristic of the period. For its efficiency, danchi were generally developed into uniform homogenised forms. In reference to Relph's (1976) concept, lacking authentic and individual sense of identities, a typical danchi is more likely to represent placelessness than place.
Despite once perceived as an iconic lifestyle of the middle-class, welcoming working-age families, today its context is commonly associated with social issues (Nordin & Nakamura, 2018). Nearly half a century after the peak of developments, many danchi communities are faced with issues of weakened social structure such as, ageing population, depopulation, weakened neighbourhood relationships (Gouda & Okamoto, 2012), and deteriorating or dated physical issues such as, absence of elevators, dated or degraded basic infrastructure (Yoshikawa, 2010).