Lab City

* This laboratory has been completed.

Yasuto Nakanishi
Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies


The human population has grown through countless inventions, technological innovations, agricultural and industrial revolutions, and the human being has experienced several waves of urbanization on earth. Together with modern industrial and social developments, proposals have been made in the 20th century for modern city plan models such as Tony Garnier’s “industrial cities”, Ebenezer Howard’s “garden cities”, and Le Corbusier’s “Radiant City”. Although many megacities are emerging in the 21st century, Japan is working out plans to shrink its cities due to its declining population, and in the midst of this, progress is being made towards developing smart cities that utilize information and communications technology such as connected cars and IoT. The relationship between cities and city planning has changed together with changes in economic and social frameworks involving authority, nations and industrial capital. Cities are becoming more complex systems as private-sector companies taking responsibility for the management of public spaces, and modern city planning methods continue to become less effective.
The issues of large-scale societies are vague, complicated, and change rapidly, and the complicated issues that emerge from network-like structures, especially when artificial systems are mixed with nature, and the design techniques required for the designs to deal with such issues have been discussed by Don Norman with a keyword called “DesignX”. Norman argues that a team of specialists for each issue should be established and a design technique that repeats an “investigation, deliberation, implementation, and verification” cycle should be employed to create a Complex Sociotechnical System. Even if an issue could not generally be resolved, he advocates that issues should be resolved in an incremental fashion. In city designing and planning, it has been unacceptable to conduct an irresponsible experiment easily, and there has been a tendency that experiences are respected and inherited. However, there are cases where citizens and private companies are working together with local governments to manage areas and conduct various experimental and practical trials creating public spaces, communities, and information services in Fukuoka, Kobe, and Tokyo. It is valid to say that these efforts are a prime example of DesignX.
Now that cities have become large-scale and have become architecturally impossible to grasp as a whole, they have reached a scale where the relationship between their parts and their whole cannot be treated as a single entity. Therefore, the two-level system of representing the overall image by using concepts and diagrams, and architecturally representing blocks and districts has become a characteristic feature of modern city planning. Additionally, if the telecommunication systems in the form of connected cars and other IoT systems cover the city partly or entirely, then a new layer will be added. For this reason, in order to create concepts and diagrams that represent new “cities” in the 21st century, and to represent them as actual cities, there is a need to connect these types of multiple visible and invisible layers actively. Considering that an era that should be called the second machine age will be coming as robots and artificial intelligence, etc. become more prevalent in the future together with telecommunications technology, cities as systems will most likely become more complicated than they already are now.
In an age when issues within cities become more complicated and there are no correct or optimal solutions, environments that allow a repetitive cycle of “creating and operating satisfactory solutions and examining them” are expected to be called “cities” in the future. These satisfactory solutions are intended for various scales ranging from megacities to small communities, and from store designs to cloud services that straddle across multiple cities. Accordingly, this laboratory proposes a model called “Lab City” where many city experiments are gathered in a city as a new city image for the 21st century. In this model, the city is energized through the cycle of accumulating, exchanging, and compiling expertise obtained from experiments from merging the experimental attitude of repeating investigation, deliberation, implementation, and verification with a practical attitude that perceives actual cities as one field.
This consortium has been established to consider and test out what the Lab City needs as a new city model that goes beyond the Creative City and Research Park, and will set up fields to carry out experiments. A major objective of this consortium is to take an incremental approach to build a new city image for the 21st century by compiling various expertise obtained from the experiments and from merging the experimental attitude that repeats an investigation-deliberation-implementation-verification cycle with the practical attitude that targets actual fields.

Overview of Research Activity Plans

    • (Research Plan)

    • Investigate the conditions and factors required of the Lab City by examining city models and experiments that attempt to correct, criticize, and transcend modern city planning, and by compiling practical examples conducted by participating companies.

(Activity Plans)

    • – Kickoff meeting

Will hold a session to discuss the concept of Lab City in ORF2017.

    • – Workshops (to be held every other month)

Members share information with each other and hold discussions.

Researchers, managers and professors

Yasuto NakanishiDirector Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Jun Murai Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Tomoyuki Furutani Professor, Faculty of Policy Management
Hajime Ishikawa Professor, Graduate School of Media and Governance
Takuya Onishi Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Yasuaki Kakehi Part-time Lecturer Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Fumitoshi Kato Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Hiroya Tanaka Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Hajime Narukawa Associate Professor, Graduate School of Media and Governance
Shinya Fujii Associate Professor Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Daijiro Mizuno Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies
Shohei Matsukawa Associate Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies