JAPAN’S ENERGY HISTORY + FUTURE
As a historical precedence, Japanese Metabolists dealt with increasing population and limited resources, such as land and energy. Now, in the 21st Century, we are facing the decreasing population and same constraints, compounded by sustainability. Inheriting the Metabolist legacy, what we prefer is same in form, but differ in type. We propose a similar formal language and system, but deployed and re-appropriated for different energy, infrastructural, and urban vision from the precedences in terms of scale and function of the interventions. 2020 will witness the return of the Olympics to Tokyo, Japan after what has been a half century of dramatic changes to its urban technologies, economy and politics.
The Japanese government, in anticipation of the legacy of the Olympics as a change-agent, has already bestowed the 2020 games with the epithet of the ‘Hydrogen Olympics,’ planning to use the world-stage as a showcase of the next generation technology of the Hydrogen Fuel-Cell. While the government’s main intention is to highlight the fuel-cell’s capability in terms of vehicular emissions and fuel-stations, we intend to highlight the potential advances in Hydrogen Fuel-cell technology as applicable to the Tokyo’s urban form in terms of the infrastructural relationship to urban morphology at the architecture and landscape scale typologies.
EXISTING ENERGY PARADIGM
Fuel-Cell Futurisms proposes a new development plan for Tokyo. Leveraging the architectural ambition of the 1960’s plan against the economic, and ecological realities of the 2020’s. The proposed new Tokyo plan, will be born out of a desire to reduce economic dependence on importation of liquid based petroleum, as an energy intensive practice. Simultaneously eliminating the reliance on regional based nuclear solutions who’s byproducts have alarmed the citizenship since the disaster of Fukushima. These 20th century energy solutions, created around the notion of a center city relationship will be revisited to establish an energy policy more suited to 21st century politics creating a community shared and risk distributed energy ecosystem.
Simultaneously, the prospect of Fuel-Cell futurism will decrease the overburdened metropolis’ need to import water from regional aquifer system fraught with mega-political economic problems in favor of district sourced energy and water through the hydrogen energy process. With a growing population and energy demand, Japan moves into the future with the technology and the resources to challenge the existing energy practices and benefit from the environmental and economic conditions of hydrogen.
THE HYDROGEN FUEL CELL
This new model of localized infrastructural solutions implemented at the urban block, speaks towards the pronounced feeling of uncertainty; with regard to current climactic unpredictability as well as the decreasing possibility of large governmental intervention, projects such as massive water and energy infrastructure are challenging. The proposed new model of shared urban energy – water infrastructure will build on Japan’s architectural legacy of the Mega-project as well as its robust history of urban collective form though implementable at the private and individual scale of urbanism and architecture. Fuel Cell Futurism will vie for a new public realm mixed with infrastructure and collective use. Building upon Japan’s robust and complex relationship between building and nature in the man-made garden, creating a new hybrid condition of infrastructural sublime. Clean Hydrogen Fuel is a three part process, beginning with the catalyzed electrolysis of water, splitting the water into Oxygen and gaseous Hydrogen, which is stored on site. Following which, to power a Hydrogen fuel cell which through fusion with pure oxygen generates energy.
ENERGY AS URBAN LANDSCAPE
Following the 2020 Olympics, Japan will become the front-runner in a new paradigm of energy based urban planning and Tokyo will be the laboratory of potentials. This proposal undertakes re-defining the typical Tokyo Urban Megablock, by spatializing the hydrogen energy based system as a series of infrastructural public realm amenities creating a shared economy and district based self-sufficiency and accountability. Infrastructural - Architectural interventions will be structured around the clean manufacturing of hydrogen from the electrolysis process of water, the careful storage of hydrogen in its gaseous state and finally its energy conversion using the fuel cell.
This three tiered approach will in turn be distributed at three urban scales, the landscape park which will operate across the entirety of the megablock, the urban block folly within selected soft sites of each block, and the lot of the individual single-family house system. Each of these sites will have a shared aesthetic of form born stemming from the Metabolist legacy’s vegetation logic spoken by Kenzo Tange… “The structural element is thought of as a tree-- a permanent element with its dwelling units as the leaves - temporary elements which fall down are renewed according to the needs of the moment, but the structure remains.”