Osaka - The Ecological Satellite

The city of Osaka, located in the geographic center of Japan, served as the country’s capital during the mid-7th century and continued to play an important role as a hub of trade and commerce even after the capital was transferred to nearby Kyoto. Since the second half of the 19th century Osaka has developed as a major urban industrial center. Osaka and the neighboring cities of Kyoto and Kobe, among others, form a megalopolis, the Keihanshin region, which is regarded as the urban nucleus of western Japan.

The competition targets a approx. 24ha site, the Umeda Cargo station, located in the Umeda district, the commercial heart of Osaka. It is perhaps one of the last remaining large-scale downtown districts for urban redevelopment in Japan.

It has long been known that the major problem of modern cities is sprawl - the perfidious expansion of cities that is devouring farmland and wilderness extinguishing numerous species and threatening to turn the entire world into a giant city.

So what to do about this disaster? How to create a compact, dense city that is still amenable to human occupation? With this experimental project "another green world" we propose to tackle the problem on a number of fronts.

Firstly, the ground itself is raised up above the earth’s crust and repeated as a "second skin"; an artificial topography is created with the various layers of the buildings being treated as the contours of and imaginary landscape.

Secondly, the entire surface is covered in greenery, hence the name, “Green City”.  Rather than "towers in a park" (as per Le Corbusier) or a concrete jungle with the occasional sad piece of greenery for the stressed out city dwellers the entire surface becomes a verdant tapestry of greenery – parks, gardens, agriculture and vertical farms – green facades and rooftops that replace for everyone's benefit the land consumed in the process of inhabitation.

Thirdly, more environmentally and people friendly methods of circulation are encouraged. Light rail, bicycles walking are provided for while cars are discouraged by parking them under buildings and relegating them to the periphery and at certain central; nodal points wherever possible.

Location: Osaka, Japan

Project Team: Terragram Pty Ltd
Architect: Chris Elliott Architects

Year: 2003