Today, the central urban districts of many cities are formed based on city plans implemented after World War II. These plans succeed infrastructures developed during the postwar reconstruction period. After the postwar reconstruction, urban districts throughout Japan have been transformed into effective street spaces through various planning measures. The “building setback” method is one such measure to develop street spaces. Since 1971, Okayama City—under the leadership of Yoshihito Tani, the then chief of the building guidance section of the city—has implemented a measure called the setback method for developing its street spaces. In this method, the municipal government requests relevant buildings being built to be set back from the street, with no easing measures provided. The method was advocated and introduced by the then mayor Hirao Okazaki, who hoped to improve the landscape of the downtown area, where the streets seemed oppressive. This study defines characteristics of the urban district in Okayama City by determining how the street spaces developed through the setback method are how they are maintained and utilized today.<br> Following are the findings on the present situation of the setback method. More than 240 buildings on four major streets follow the setback method today. The number includes many shops and small residential houses for which satisfying the voluntary guidance criteria of the method was believed to be challenging because of the supposed reduction in sales floor area for shops, which in turn may result in reduced sales, or the supposed difficulty caused by physical restrictions of the small houses. Notably, over 40 percent of the buildings on all four streets follow the setback method to the expected extent, and in some cases, they meet more than the expected criteria. Because the maintenance of the setback areas is the responsibility of the owners of the respective buildings, some of these areas suffer a lack of care in terms of maintaining a green cover or insufficient consideration for the landscape with the passing of the years. Rules for maintenance of the setback areas are expected to be reconsidered, and support by the city will be necessary in the future. Furthermore, a lack of unity among the buildings makes it difficult for the district to conduct evaluations as part of city planning, and this becomes another issue about postwar architectural heritage to be solved. Many aspects of buildings and cities developed after the war remain unexamined. Reassessment of buildings built under the setback method will be necessary for their fair appreciation before they are demolished. Suggestions for landscaping policies will be a future theme.


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  • Accession Number: 01603428
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)
  • Files: TRIS, JSTAGE
  • Created Date: May 30 2016 3:01PM