Responsive Streets Tokyo

Responsive Streets Tokyo

Tokyo is known as one of the most advanced cities in the world, yet it is exceptionally vulnerable to natural and environmental disasters.  Inherent within Japanese culture is the understanding that adapting to changing landscapes and rebuilding structures and services is inevitable.  Drills and procedures for preparation and evacuation are communicated and organised across multiple scales from the national to the individual. Despite well-equipped and responsive emergency systems, authorities suggest that citizens and communities be prepared to survive for 72 hour while national emergency systems deploy.

Emergency infrastructure in Japan is often developed at an industrial scale in an effort to maintain structural integrity or provide amenity during a disaster. In most cases however, it is questionable whether these operate effectively in the day-to-day. Responsive Streets ask the following: How can elements within the local neighbourhood be responsive to during emergencies meanwhile add real value to everyday life within the streets?

The proposed interventions were developed in response to the streets within Asakusa in Taito ward, Tokyo. They address everyday human scale issues of the lack of shade amenity, ecological services and community activity in the main arterial roads.


Responsive street awnings are the primary focus of this project. Designed to improve the atmospheric qualities of the streets, the awnings respond to environmental conditions such as shading from the intense summer sun, opening to allow light in during winter and tilting for ventilation.  In the event of heavy rain senses will close the awning entirely to create a covered walkway. Their ability to stagger up and down allows for the reading of vertically layered signage within the street – an important cultural aspect of Japanese cities.

Responsive to rain

Responsive to rain

During heavy rain events, the awning system automatically closes sheltering the footpath below.


Responsive to summer heat

The Tokyo summer can be incredibly hot. Depending on the sun intensity, awns can be staggered both horizontally and vertically.

Responsive to sunSunlight access

In contrast to summer, Tokyo’s winters can be cold and icy. Awnings respond to this condition by opening fully.

Vertical views

Vertical readability

Vertical staggering allows street users to view building signage, and important navigation feature of Tokyo’s, and in particular, Asakusa’s streets.

Construction Instructions

Emergency response

Tent Model

In the event of an emergency evacuation awning can be released and taken to an evacuation site to be reconfigured into tent structures that sleep up to four adults. Created from the latest technology in ETFE foil, they are light weight and extremely durable.