Conclusions: Post-industrial cities and the possibility of new forests

Today in Japan, how to manage the landscape in this post-industrial age is also of public concern. One solution being considered is creating forests by planting trees on the brownfield sites where there once were industrial fac­tories (nature of the fourth kind; Kowarik 2005). It is important, however, that we respect the cultural context concerning the relationship between cities and forests.

One aspect that should be considered is spatial axes and their directions in cities. In Japan, lands used for heavy industry have expanded the city towards the coastal area (Zukin 1991). Simply planting forests on these lands could reverse the direction of the cities’ spatial axes from the tradi­tional mountain-wards direction to the unknown sea-wards direction (Fig. 7). Whether the change is acceptable for the city is something that must be considered.


Fig. 7. Diagrams of industrial development (above) and the different narratives in the post-industrial city (below)

Furthermore, it can be said that, in Japan, the landscape of forests in the city was a great narrative itself—a bygone memory of an agricultural land­scape, discovered by city people in the post-agricultural age. This being the case, we should discuss how to treat the historic industrial landscape in a way that is culturally acceptable to the people of the post-industrial age. We should consider forests of the post-industrial age in a different way from forests of the post-agricultural age (Fig. 8).

These viewpoints, which take into account the long history of civiliza­tion, seem meaningful to us not only in Japanese cases. Even if we could build forests in the cities using ecological technology without any cultural context, we cannot be sure that the forests would be accepted by people and built into the new narratives of the cities. On the other hand, however, we should also take notice of the both spontaneous and enforced character­istics of the narratives mentioned above. It is true that the narratives of landscapes are social and cultural products and ways of seeing (Cosgrove 1984). In any event, we must frequently remind ourselves that the problem of landscape in the post-industrial age should be fully discussed as an issue concerning the history of civilization and culture.


Fig. 8. Diagrams of forest landscapes of post-agricultural significance (above) and post-industrial significance (below)


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Updated: October 15, 2015 — 12:37 am