In 2012, the empty land next to us finally got built out. It’s a rare thing in Japan to have undeveloped land. My neighborhood is pretty rare that way. The reason is simple though; it’s all reclaimed land. 20 years ago this was ocean, or harbor anyway. Originally, that land was supposed to be used for a middle school. Honestly, I would have been happy if they had gone through with that.The school we do have is packed.
But that’s not important.
I saw this as an opportunity. I went out and got a web camera and pointed it out from my study to take a time lapse video of the building going up. It took about 8 months. Each day is less than 2 seconds in the final video. Check it out. Music was Faster Does It, royalty free.
2 thoughts on “Building Time Lapse”
What strikes me is how homogeneous the architecture seems. We have a lot of exceedingly bad architecture here, but I feel as though there are more varieties of badness. You got your God-awful Brutalism, your ego-driven architectural statements, your loathsome indistinguishable suburban sprawls, etc. But one glance at your picture instantly says “Japan” to me. Am I way off-base here?
JT, yes it is very “Japanese” in style. There are a couple of good reasons for it. You’re probably only aware of it unconsciously. I’m more directly aware.
Can of Worms
The vast majority of residential apartment buildings have balconies. When I say vast majority, I really do mean vast. It is as much of a requirement here as windows in NA. The only exceptions are really tall buildings in the middle of the city. The balcony is the clearest distinctive feature, and what gives it the look you mention.
So why are they necessary? There’s a heck of a lot of culture and tradition in that question. I’ll try to be brief (though it might be hard).
1) The total floor space of a building is limited by law.
Called a FAR, the total floor space of a building is limited by the land space on which it is built. FAR means floor to area ratio, where area is the size of the parcel of land.
2) Balconies are not counted in the FAR, unless they are more than 2 meters from the wall.
3) As a rule, Japanese don’t use clothes dryers.
This is deeply cultural. Most apartments don’t have the 200~220 volt outlets for dryers. This is a chicken or egg thing. But there is certainly a prejudice that dryers harm your clothes. And housewives spend a huge amount of time on laundry. And far fewer women work in JP vs. NA.
So the balcony can really only be used to hang your laundry.
I once did a cost/benefit analysis on this use of balcony space (ok, I’m a total geek, or an expat anyway). It is remarkably more cost effective to use the space for living space and use a clothes dryer instead. Please no poking fun at me for having done this.
This is the short version. I can go on. Part of my job is to understand real estate, and it is a huge pain in the @$$.