Bike Town Tokyo
By Lise Laurberg
Most architects, city planners and architecture lovers will agree that the bicycle is an outstanding means of transportation when it comes to experiencing the city and its architecture. In Bike Town Tokyo, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto of Atelier Bow Wow and Danish architect René Kural present an inspiring collection of bicycle facts, ideas and suggestions to create bicycle friendly cities.
Bike Town Tokyo is the result of workshops between the two architects and students at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Tokyo, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, and Copenhagen, a front-runner of bicycle culture, meet in a research project that can also inspire architects and planners of other cities.
The book expresses a genuine love for bicycles in relation to the city, as expressed in Kural’s description of biking through Tokyo – a city mostly travelled underground by train:
|I was excited to realize an experience of Tokyo like none I had ever known: The city and its enormous variety of landscapes, smells, winds, sounds, and temperatures opened up its secrets to me.
Social benefits, fashion and fun
It is, however, not only the poetic qualities of the bicycle that made the authors write the book. The social, ecological and economic benefits of bicycling are many:
|The benefits of bicycling justify why city planners and architects should keep the bicycle in mind when designing.|
|Regardless of why you personally chose to go by bicycle, it is inspiring and important to know that every pedal stroke is beneficial not only to your personal health and economic situation, but as we’ve seen, to our whole society.|
At the same time, bicycles can be both fun and fashionable. And this is why the book is a good read: it combines a serious focus on how bicycles can contribute to a sustainable society with a pure fascination of the bicycle as a cultural object and a conveyor of urban experiences. And, on top of it all, 6 different student projects suggest how Tokyo can develop to become Bike Town Tokyo – and how other cities could do the same.
The first part of the book is dedicated to bicycle research, and fans of Atelier Bow-Wow‘s books Pet Architecture and Made in Tokyo will enjoy the ‘bike atlas’ and the mappings of ‘bike evolution’, showing how the conventional bike has been transformed in multiple ways over time to become transportable homes or shops, works of art, fashion objects og high performance sports equipment.
This part of the book provides you with lots of inspiring bicycle background, facts and imagery through short chapters on topics as different as health impact, social and ecological benefits, benefits in cases of emergency, personal freedom, an overview of infrastructural bicycle solutions, bike sharing systems and even bike fashion and bicycle movies.
Buildings for bicycles
The second part of the book shows the work of students, suggesting bicycle solutions for different parts of Tokyo. The most surprising and interesting project Commercycle Tokyo proposes the integration of bicycle traffic into four specific buildings in the commercial district of Shibuya:
|Cycling should merge with a more rounded lifestyle approach, to form a new architecture for bicycles. Bikes should no longer be relegated to lanes and roads. Bike architecture will engage the bicycle with the city.|
Bicycle culture is mostly reserved for city and traffic planners, but this project shows how architects can also enter the field and add a whole new dimension to bicycle friendly cities, creating buildings for bicycles.