Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117566. (Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Until two decades ago, large shipbuilding docks and port facilities were located in the central part of Yokohama, in the Tokyo Bay. When Yokohama relocated these industries, the opportunity arose to create a new waterfront community in the form of Minato Mirai 21 (MM21). Since the inception of the project Masterplan in 1981, the development of MM21 has successfully turned the Yokohama area into a modern mixed-use waterfront and offers an excellent opportunity to explore the following: 1.What were the driving forces in the transformation of these urban waterfront spaces, within the economic, political, social and cultural mileu of cities? What roles were undertaken by the state, institutional, professional and commercial players – the agencies and actors involved - in the redevelopment of the waterfront? 2.What kinds of roles did the public have in these development and if the public benefit from these changes. The question of public access to the waterfront and whether the inclusion of public spaces on the waterfront are considered. The changing spatial relationships of the waterfront with the city is considered through issues of public benefit. 3.What forms of urban spatial configurations were generated by the revitalization of the waterfront? What kinds of infrastructural development support these changes? Sustainability issues arising from these changes are assessed – if there is an overall improvement in the comprehensive environment encompassing urban and social dimensions.
Waterfront development, public-private partnership, public benefit; urban design
BACKGROUND AND DEVELOPMENT HISTORY
Morphology of Land and Water Development
The site of MM21 straddles two estuaries: those of the Ooka and the Katabira (and Sakura and Aratama) rivers. The areas around these two estuaries were historically important and continue to be so in Yokohama today. The Ooka River runs through old Yokohama port town at Kannai district. Kannai was built on the old spit of land which sheltered an inlet or lagoon found just within the Ooka estuary. The town that subsequently grew on this reclaimed land in the 19th century is the Yokohama River Town, the hinterland of the old waterfront port town at Kannai. The Katabira River flows through what is today the Yokohama station area. This forms part of the Keihin industrial belt, which includes the Tsurumi River reclamation area, which connects Yokohama to the industrial area of Kawasaki and ultimately to Tokyo further north. The immediate hinterland of MM21 is the hilly Naka Ward found between the courses of the two rivers and is largely residential and suburban.
Reinventing the post-industrial waterfront for 21st century Yokohama. Yokohama’s relationship to its port had always been important. In fact Yokohama’s raison d’etre was as the treaty port arising from the visit of Commodore Perry to Japan in 1853, eventually giving rise to The US-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1858. The following year, the Port of Yokohama was opened. In 1945 during World War II, 90 percent of port facilities were taken over by the U.S. Military, and finance and trade shifted to Tokyo. When the War ended, Yokohama port facilities were requisitioned by the US. It was not till 1952 that, through citizens' efforts, Osanbashi Pier, situated right in the centre of old Yokohama’s waterfront, was released from U.S. requisition and returned to the Japanese.
In 1964 a ‘Yokohama City Centre Plan Concept Proposal’ was drawn up, specifically targeting the Shinko Pier area, Mitsubishi Dockyards, and the Takashima Dockyards and Railyards. However, it was actually in February 1965 that the vision of a ‘Waterfront City’ was announced by the mayor, requiring Mitsubishi heavy industries’ relocation. Between 1967 till the 1970s, talks were held between the city and Mitsubishi Industries. Negotiations had begun with Mitsubishi Heavy industries, and by March 1983 the relocation had been completed. The relocation of heavy industries port and railroad yards to deepwater facilities, beginning in the late 1970s, created the potential for the re-use of the ‘Inner Harbour’ district of Yokohama. Following this, the beginnings of MM21’s planning body came in 1981, and 1984 with an official coordinating body was set up to manage the public-private partnership.
Concepts/ideas in Planning. Different considerations apply to Old and New Yokohama. Planning for the old city was exemplified by the Yokohama River Town Masterplan, where great emphasis was given to greenery along old canals and pedestrian links. Shinko District was treated integrally with Kannai and the old Yoshida New Field area. In planning for the newly-reclaimed and consolidated land parcels in Central District of MM21, three abstract “Development Concepts” were envisioned: (1) It aspired to be an international “Cultural Cosmopolis” operating around the clock; (2) it was to be an “Information City” of the 21st century; (3) while anticipated to be a “city with superior environmental and human touches surrounded by water, and greenery,” (4) care was take to preserve historic monuments
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS, OPERATION AND MANAGEMENT
In July 1984, the quasi-public MM21 Corporation was established. The Corporation was touted as a forerunner of a Town Management Organization, and acted as the Secretariat for the Town Development Council. As a public-private joint venture, it assumed a neutral position as neither landowner nor developer, but supervised both the public and private sectors.
The Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDC), a “third sector agency,” was incorporated into MM21 Corporation. It was earlier tasked in 1981 to coordinate the Land Readjustment System, a pioneering mechanism in Japan’s urban redevelopment history. The Land Readjustment System was the arbiter of landowners who had to agree on a basic layout and may be required to donate a portion of their land holdings to be used for public amenities, or were sold to generate revenue for infrastructural improvements.The Town Development Council was responsible for implementation of decisions made from discussions of issues involving approval of buildings and structures, advertising signs and other facilities.
The “Basic Agreement on Town Development” was laid down in July 1988 to formalize decisions made by landowners and MM21 Corp. It was also the document through which the Town Development Council was established as the agency responsible for implementation of the agreement, with the secretariat in MM21 Corp. The objective of the “Basic Agreement” was “to ensure that all parties involved shared a common understanding” on town development “that would be promoted harmoniously”. This went down to the level of specific aspects of each block in MM21 such as “functions, spaces, transportation routes, systems operation and town formation”. The Agreement is supplemented by guidelines with subsidiary rules and standards.
Phasing and growth strategy. Despite its adoption of the public-private partnership (PPP) principle, MM21 was heavily reliant on major investors to make the project work. These major stakeholders then determine the outcome of the discussions over town planning and design. Inevitably, therefore, many of the development decisions were biased towards corporate interests. Social goals were tempered heavily by the necessity of fulfilling capitalist requirements for growth, and the initial premise for MM21 as a beautiful new waterfront and landscaped environment for Yokohama residents became dominated by concerns for investment and physical growth. Provisional Land-use Adjustments was devised in the face of the economic downturn in the early 90s, to allow MM21 to cope with “delays in full-fledged land use” by encouraging the temporary continuation of provisional land uses that enhanced land returns in the transitory phase.
Urban Design Guidelines and Brief. Prior to the 1988 “Basic Agreement on Town Development”, the Improvement Plan of 1981 stipulated the application of “the town skeleton and axis tuned to this plan”, and the introduction of “the town design perspective into the plan as a whole.”
Two key manifestations of this early vision were:
a. Town Design Plan. “In Yokohama, a community which pioneered the use of urban designs in Japan, new “environmental design standards” were established in the Minato Mirai 21 district, with town development advanced on that basis. The focus of the push was on mall planning, town density and scenery, and architectural planning.” As could be discerned from these guidelines, a departure from the spatial character of Yokohama old town was envisioned in the plans for the new district on the waterfront.
b. Waterfront Plan. “The main thrust of the plan was to place a park along the waterfront, maximizing the potential for citizens to interact with and enjoy the harbour and ocean.” However, the new waterfront was not related to city functions and as found in the analysis, lacked the connectivity and spatial continuity that the old Yokohama waterfront embodied.
In July 1988, negotiations and discussions were led and coordinated by MM21 Corporation as part of its “first major job” in fulfilling its intended role as “the focus in the move to autonomously determine the rules to be applied to town development between landowners”. The decisions reached were spelled out in the “Basic Agreement on Town Development” document, “in the interest of advancing harmonious town development through the same essential thinking.” The rationale and spirit of the discussion between landowners which eventually led to the “Basic Agreement” is manifested by the landowners remarking on the kind of town they desired:
“We can envision a Hong Kong-like city centre with a unique atmosphere that is open 24 hours a day. To build a new city centre for the 21st century that we can be proud of on the world stage … [requires that it be] planned for it to take shape…” 
Skyline, Street Scenery and Vistas to accentuate a waterfront atmosphere. The desire for grand and clear vistas or views of the sea along visual corridors, related to building height control and setbacks as buildings approach the water’s edge were guided by the three key principles called “Vistas”, “Street Scenery” and “Skyline” in the MM21 urban design guidelines for the district. Scaling of buildings was a key consideration so as to create a “skyline that decreases in height approaching the sea”. All the avenues that span the two major boulevards of the Central District that head out to sea “would form axes on either side of which the walls of buildings were set back to ensure that a vista would open up as one drove toward the sea”. The intention was that “a person could feel the sea and port nearby from anywhere in the town”, whether driving along these avenues or walking along the pedestrian walkways that were separate from, but parallel to, these avenues.
Public interest and access
Housing, diversity and social sustainability. A diverse population who makes its home in MM21 would be desirable for a neighbourhood that touted itself as a representation of Yokohama’s collective aspirations. It appears, however, that the MM21 Corporation was ambivalent towards the provision of (public) housing. The Corporation, through its promotional publication, indicated that “the introduction of residential housing was prone to cause friction with the other functions. There would be many aspects of housing which could actually interfere with the accumulation of urban functions”.
It was therefore hardly surprising that the residential community as conceived in MM21 had tended towards an economic elite, abetted by the prohibitive real estate costs of the premium housing planned there. MM21 Corporation refereed to such high-rise apartments as “city centre style housing”. These apartments, such as the inaugural M.M. Towers comprising 3 blocks, completed Oct 2003, fall only within the affordability range of jet-setting executives of international profile. The bulk of the urban blocks labelled “Urban Housing” in which “housing construction was allowed” fell within what has been designated the “International Zone” in the Central District’s land use plan. Land prices in MM21 are not supported by the national or the municipal government. However, there had been an attempt by the Urban Renaissance Agency (which had its office in MM21) to provide for rental units in two high-rise blocks along the King’s Axis.
A rental housing market might have allowed for diversity of residents in MM21, and perhaps allowed flexibility in housing choices/arrangements during different stages of the economic cycle. Nonetheless, it appeared that the provision for housing in MM21 will remain highly inadequate, given that the plans as of July 2003 is to have only 10,000 residents, as opposed to 190,000 workers. This great imbalance between projected working population and actual live-in community meant that a great burden would be placed on the transport system of Yokohama to move approximately 180,000 commuters daily.
In any case, the reality is that new white-collar jobs have been created in place of the former blue-collar ones related to the dockyards. Indeed there was great potential for gentrification of the old residential areas surrounding MM21. Three adjacent wards, namely Kitanakadori (one corner section of River Town), Yokohama Portside (along the opposite shore of Katabira River from the Takashima portion of MM21) and Noge, were considered ‘Surrounding District[s]’ for which certain development decisions have been drawn up to integrate these areas with MM21.
In the case of the first two districts, the upheavals are occasioned by the Minato Mirai Odori Boulevard being driven bluntly through their former grid. Thus in Kitanakadori, the old fabric of streets has been demolished and in its place would be a riverside promenade, office and commercial facilities in office towers, cultural facilities and more ‘city center housing’. Yokohama Portside District would be similarly affected – indeed, its landowners had established the Town Development Council to take advantage of the passage of Minato Mirai Boulevard through the area. The new basic concept drawn up by this Council for the district was that of an “Art and Design Town”. Lastly, the avenue at the old Noge shopping and entertainment quarter has been converted into a mall, with the “Noge Street Performers” to provide entertainment.
Public Spaces – old and new cultural and physical assets. Yokohama City officials took an active interest in imbuing the new public spaces in MM21 with a sense of heritage and history, especially with historic objects as focal points. In Aug 1983 the city government took over control over the sailing vessel Nippon Maru and in Oct 1984 the Nippon-Maru Memorial Foundation was established. This became the core attraction around which the Maritime Museum was established as a public cultural anchor for the Queen’s Axis, the pioneer development in MM21 Central District. In addition, Mitsubishi was instrumental in heritage preservation via its renovation of Docks No.1 and No.2 – the former was the dock in which the Nippon Maru was permanently moored. In June 1991 control over the Red Brick Warehouses of Shinko District was transferred from the Japanese national government to Yokohama City, and by Sep 1999 Shinko District was opened as a heritage space.
MM21 attempted to introduce new concepts in outdoor as well as indoor forms of public space. Its outdoor design plans revolved around public circulation as well as public art. Public Art Tours were also organized in 2002-2001, led by art experts. Its promotional publication also showcased the special features of some of its outdoor sculptures – some of these installations respond to the environmental elements of wind and sunlight. The costs of these sculptures were borne by the developers, and their location and design involved discussions in the Town development Council and the cooperation of the artists, building designers and others. Queen’s Axis was envisaged as a “vibrant axis stemming form commercial facilities” and was constructed first as an indoor pedestrian street comprising inter-connected atriums and inner malls.
Besides outdoor public spaces, indoor public spaces were provided within retail and office complexes and were called Common Spaces and Activity Floors. The activity floors were typically given over to museums and multi-purpose halls. Examples included the Mitsubishi Minato Mirai Industrial Museum (an Activity Floor) and the ‘Galleria’ (a Common Space) on the ground floor of the Mitsubishi Juko Yokohama building. However, the mall-like environment did not embody the civic or social ambience of the active public spaces still found in Yokohama town, such as the Motomatchi shopping district. The splitting of public circulation to maximise retail coverage on the first and basement levels diluted the public character of the main pedestrian mall even further.
Public access and connectivity. The water’s edge and the experience of getting to this new water margin of the city would be naturally be an important point in evaluating MM21. Overall, the development seemed to lack the diversity of spaces that waterfront spaces such as Sydney Harbour – the imposing architectural gestures of the iconic Landmark Tower and the Pacifico Plza actually obliterates the waterfront destination. While the main circulation through the retail malls generate activity, the presence of the waterfront is again detracted. Beginning from Sakuragicho station, via a travelator and past Landmark Tower to the start of Queen Mall, internal decks lead to the circular Pacifico deck which eventually connected via the back of the Convention Hall to Rinko park, almost as an afterthought.
Arguably, Rinko Park was too small for Yokohama City – it lacked critical mass to warrant its claim as the premier waterfront space for Yokohama residents, given that almost all of the rest of the Yokohama waterfront was otherwise devoted to port and heavy industry. Worst, Rinko Park was not well-connected – it was a dead-end destination, at the far end of a very long journey from the old town, not connected with other parks or promenades beyond. On the far northern end of the waterfront promenade was an area slated for disaster relief, with ‘earthquake proof domestic berths’ and with no connection provided to Yamanouchi Pier just beyond it. As such it had not become a space integrated into everyday life of many Yokohama residents, but a space for special events, not only because of its distance from the city, but also due to its many missed connections which result in its relative isolation.
Up to a degree, attempts had been made to link the new project to the working waterfront heritage of the site. The waterfront promenade was not directly connected with Shinko Park or Aka-Renga Park on Shinko island, which carried the heritage warehouse buildings. To make the crossing over the Ooka River from Central District’s waterfront to Shinko Island, visitors must walk landwards for about 120 metres to the vehicular bridge that carries the major trunk boulevard of MM21, and find their way up to the elevated bridge’s pedestrian sidewalk. There was a lack of a smooth, continuous waterfront promenade.
Besides the above criticisms, Aka-Renga Park, the main waterfront public space on Shinko Island was also rather isolated from Kannai, the old Yokohama shopping area to which this historic artificial port island adjoined. The long connection via Kishamichi Promenade was formed on the old railway tracks, but it ended on an uncertain note. After passing through the monumental portal of Navios Yokohama building – there were no clear paths to get to the waterfront.
No effort had been made to allow for continuity from the Isezaki and Bashamichi shopping streets in Kannai to Shinko. This important historic shopping axis would come to a dead end facing Shinko Island – the main street and bridge from Kannai to Shinko was not aligned to this street.
What then is MM21 waterfront’s impact as public space, which addresses the primary question: for whom has the new city been intended and designed? The PPP model of cooperation and its efficacy in actual outcomes was clearly seen in the projects. In particular, focus is given to the mechanisms in place to ensure the accommodation of public interest and access, and the development agenda of the projects. However, the reality of providing for public interest without a mechanism for incorporating public feedback or participation in the development process as at best, hopeful.
Although there was provision of waterfront promenades and parks in MM21, the experience of getting to these new waterfront spaces in MM21 was dominated by a thoroughfare through shopping malls, which constitute a relatively uninteresting urban experience when compared to the older shopping districts at Noge and especially in the old town at Kannai (Bashamichi street) and the old River Town area (Isezaki street). After walking through the series of internal malls along the main thoroughfare of Queen’s Axis, one arrived at one end of the waterfront at Central District dominated by the international convention and exhibition centre on one end and the huge Rinko Park in its centre, terminating in an empty plaza at its extreme northern end which is not connected to any other place beyond it.
Thus, an evaluation of public access and use, including the range of activities allowed and catered for, and the diversity of commercial, leisure and residential amenities provision would render the development rather colourless. The scale of the projects in the new development were overwhelming considered in relation to how the design vision of each project to create meaningful urban spaces.
ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES VS. ECONOMIC CONSIDERATIONS
However, the strategies adopted in response to the ecological aspects of the sites should be considered. The MM21 project took away polluting industries from the Inner Harbour area, cleaned up the brownfield sites of the former railyard and toxic sites and introduced parks and trees on the new waterfront. At the same time, the project retained some heritage artifacts from its working port past – railway tracks, bridges, warehouses, old stone docks. There was an endeavour to achieve some balance between the global and the local, a rootedness to specific aspects of site especially related to historic layers. By creating the new waterfront district which was slated to contain the new high-rise, large floor plate developments, one could also postulate that the old town of Yokohama had been spared the pressure of new developments that were potentially space altering.
Environmental clean-up was the initial motivation for the conversion of the Inner Harbour area which constitutes MM21 today. Land profile regularization was thought through carefully with several alternatives explored. Studies were conducted, and various options considered for the water edge profile, and these can be traced through the evolution of the masterplans since the 1960s.
The July 1981 plans included a Waterfront Plan, and its evaluation. These were then modified by a series of studies in which three key issues were raised: the estuary of Katabira River as defined by the proposed reclamations at Takashima needed to be widened; there was land demand at the waterfront of the Central District; and berths were needed at Takashima and Shinko. These studies and their conclusions led to the June 1982 Revision Proposal, and the modifications were announced at the project launch. A significant amount of land was to be further reclaimed in the Central District.
In fact, the change in the profile of reclamation in Central District was motivated by non-ecological factors. The reason for additional reclamation was economic, and for a clear vista of Yokohama Bay Bridge. It was noted that “concerns were raised about the problem of longer distances from the town area to the sea, but this issue was resolved in the direction of securing land commensurate with demand.” The changes point to the incorporation of feedback from the major private commercial stakeholders, which overrode other concerns.
In MM21, the coastline is hard-edged throughout. However there has been some attempt at allowing for a closer connection with water in the form of pedestrian bridges and the Tidal Park. In addition, environmental and ecological questions are not squarely addressed. All water-land margins were hard-edged, and nothing had been done to reintroduce the ecology of the water tide margin with a soft natural edge. Indeed a portion of Rinko Park called ‘Tidal Basin’, found at the promontory in Central District, was totally man-made.
Water edge conditions are of great interest in the Yokohama River Town masterplan as well as the river projects of Tokyo, but this was not the case in MM21. Instead, MM21’s plans, inherited from the early 1980s, express the anxieties of Yokohama’s position as the leading port of Japan in 1980. Yokohama’s continued eminence was threatened by the lack of coordination between urban and harbour functions, particularly manifested in the worsening traffic conditions at the inner harbour. The last three Plan Directions for the Inner Harbour District Redevelopment Plan of 1982 thus went beyond the mere maintenance of its premier port status, and aimed instead at pitching Yokohama as an international city to rival Tokyo.
Because the MM21 project grew out of reclaimed or re-assembled land from original industrial or infrastructural land use, the pattern of the waterfront development is one in which the notion of a continuous city fabric of the old city to the new constructed city would be alien. New rules of organization have to define the final form of the new urban object. These, in the case of the MM21 project, have arisen out of material concerns such as new infrastructures – roads, subways lines, land ownership, as well as abstract organizational ideas such as the Queen and King’s axes, view angles to and from the waterfront, etc, and the need to work within the processes defined by public-private development strategies.
Thus, the context for planning the new development differs significantly from the processes that shaped the old city wards such as those in the old river town along the Ooka River, and those along Katabira River, in terms of such aspects as the scale of roads, size of land parcels and the speed and processes of development. It is thus necessary to evaluate the new development in the new terms of reference.
As an overall development, MM21 stands in isolation form the city of Yokohama and could be perceived as exclusionary due to its poor spatial relationship to the old city. There had not been a structured system of public space that leads from the old city to the new. In addition, the new city grid adopted by MM21 differed in kind from the old city grid, so that there is a discernable hard-edge between the old city fabric and that of the new waterfront district. The indoor connective malls on several levels were not visible from the old city, leading to the perception of disconnectedness and the lack of presence of the waterfront. The MM21 development envisaged itself as a new destination development, but the critical mass of retail and recreational activity did not seem adequate to draw large crowds from the old city centers such as Motomachi and Yokohama Chinatown.
One could look at MM21, in terms of an invasion by private capital interests in collusion with the state, both of which act in concert to fulfil largely economic and prestige imperatives. Academics and grassroots movements (such as those by citizen groups and worker unions) were among the interest groups that might have opposed, or provide their critiques of, the official plans and provided for a more socially-oriented approach in developing the new waterfront.
These newly-released waterfront public spaces were thus one result of the tide of private capital on waterfront projects, as opposed to the previous state management of the port areas. Yet perhaps one might discern a the possibilities opened up in Yokohama’s MM21 project, where a certain balance appeared to have been struck between its substantial real estate interests and the generous expanses of greenery and provision for public recreation and entertainment. The NAVIOS centre for seamen also stood as an example of the provision of space for former users of the working port. In addition to these, heritage and history in the form of rail, docks, warehouses and ship relics and artifacts (Nippon Maru since 1985) have also been adapted and re-invented for public benefit.
Note: The case study is the first of a comparative study of waterfront developments in Asia. The authors would like to acknowledge the National University of Singapore for funding the research project, and the MM21 Corporation for providing original materials including maps, internal publications, publicity materials and granting interviews and site visits for the research; also Professor Jinnai from Hosei University for valuable comments on the development.
River Town Yokohama. Yokohama Archives of History, 2007 (in Japanese)
Ren, Saito, The Story of Yokohama: a History of a Port in Asia. Trans. Y. Maiko, C.R. Kimmel. Tokyo” Libro-Port Publishing Co. 1989.
Yokohama Minato Mirai 21: A City of Creative Experimentation. (in Japanese)
Yokohama: Japanese Contemporary Port City and Eco-history, Hosei University.
Jinnai’s Lab., Ch. 2: “Process of transition/evolution from middle to modern open port” (in Japanese)
Official Handbooks, Pamphlets and Brochures: (used as general reference)
Minato Mirai 21 Plans and Projects. Minato Mirai 21 Information Vol. 17 (Mar 2006).
Minato Mirai 21: Shinko District. Yokohama Port Authority.
Minato Mirai 21: Basic Agreement on Town Development under Minato Mirai 21. Yokohama Minato Mirai 21 Corporation. ‘Fifth Alternation’, July 17, 2003.
Red Brick Warehouses. Yokohama Port Authority.
The Landmark Tower: Observatory on the 69th Floor. Panoramic aerial day and night views.
Yokohama: The Future is Here. The Ciy of Yokohama. Dec 2005.
 The description of old Yokohama is referenced from the information and maps provided in River Town Yokohama, compiled by the Yokohama Archives of History, 2007 (in Japanese)
 Saito Ren, The Sotry of Yokohama: a History of a port in Asia. Trans. Y. Mariko and C.R.Kimel. Tokyo: Libro-Port Publishing CO., 1989, p. 14
 In 1961, reclamation work for Daikoku-cho and the Marine Tower was completed. The Marine Tower was built just behind the southern end of Yamashita Park, and the ship Hikawa-Maru was moored at Yamashita Park’s waterfront. Then in 1964, Osanbashi Passenger Terminal was completed.
 Details of the planning intentions of MM21 are derived from direct interviews and also from the list of publications in both English and Japanese form the MM21 Corporation
The respective roles played by MM21 Corporation – Public sector – Private sector are:MM21 Corp: Business attraction campaign/public relations; Planning Daily Life Facilities and Land Use; Public Sector: Basic Plan; Infrastructure development; Public Facility construction; Private Sector players develop office buildings, commercial facilities, and housing.
 See p. 82-83 Yokohama Minato Mirai 21: A City of Creative Experimentation.
 See Basic Agreement 15.