A Seaside Village for a Harbourtown Metropolis

I’ve been visiting Tokyo very regularly for over 20 years. In this period, one of the great changes to Tokyo as a city (never mind economic and social changes, etc.) has been the recovery of outdoor spaces, especially the re-discovery of Tokyo as a harbour or ocean-side city.

The plans for the Tokyo O & P Games suggest that the Games might further push this development, especially because Tokyo’s application to host the Games was in part centred around being able to offer a Games right in the centre of a global metropolis, or, as the application put it, “To welcome the world to a dynamic celebration in the heart of the city.”

Venue Locations on or near Tokyo Bay

There’s a nice overview map of the venue planning on the TOGOC website. Obviously, the Tokyo Bay Zone identified on that map is what I have in mind in terms of furthering the awareness of Tokyo’s location on Tokyo Bay and thus the Pacific.

A majority of the competition venues will be located in this zone within a <4km radius. These venues will be: Volleyball, BMX, track cycling, gymnastics, tennis, swimming (triathlon and marathon swim), beach volleyball, wrestling, fencing/taekwondo, hockey, equestrian (2 sites), rowing/kayak, mountain biking, sailing, archery, swimming, water polo. The Olympic Village and the media centre are also within this zone.

The Olympic Village will be built at Harumi Pier. Anyone who has visited Odaiba (itself an artificial island developed in the mid-1990s) may recall riding across the Rainbow Bridge on the Yurikamome line from Shinbashi. After ascending on that long loop to go from near ground level to the Bridge, the view to the North would include Harumi Pier. Harumi Pier is also a stop on some harbour and river cruises and those connect it to Odaiba as well.

Apart from a small park at the tip of Harumi (Harumifuto Park – 晴海ふ頭公園), the island is largely undeveloped. I have a funny feeling that I’ve been to Harumi (the set-up of the park at the tip feels familiar), but I can’t figure out whether I’m just imagining that.

From the candidature files, it looks like the park will be converted into a sports facility (since I was based in the Olympic Village for the London Games I can certainly attest that there is a lot of light exercise (jogging, biking, strolling) going on in the village, so such a facility makes perfect sense). The village itself is then projected to take up about half of the island close to the par.

The rendering of the residences actually looks strangely similar to the London village, but those are just generic drawings I suspect. It is clear that some of the rooms will have spectacular views towards the Rainbow Bridge.

Post-Games the Village is slated for “international exchange activities”. While that seems quite vague, I imagine that the park with its view and proximity to any downtown location in Tokyo, but given the relative quiet of being removed across a body of water, may well turn out to be a bit of a destination that really will contribute to making Tokyo more of a “seaside” metropolis.