Shunsaku Miyagi

Ecological urbanism in ancient capital cities of Japan - a case study in Heijokyo (Nara) and Heiankyo (Kyoto)

Shunsaku Miyagi
PLACEMEDIA Landscape Architects Collaborative, Tokyo 187-0002, Japan
School of Human Life and Environment, Nara Women’s University , Nara 630-8506, Japan
Day 3, 9:30-10:20

Most of the issues with regard to preserving historical environment in ancient cities in Japan have been discussed and practiced in terms of protecting remains that still maintain the original forms and values. However, in the case of urban space, historical values of the environment should be defined in the light of entire process through which the area has been developed and reached the present day. Ecological sustainability that accounts stable balance between natural processes and human intervention on them will be the point to be reviewed in this respect. A set of case study in Heiankyo (Kyoto) and Heijokyo (Nara) has represented distinguished aspects of ecological process which has been expressed in the landscape. Over 1,200 years as the capitol of Japan, a sophisticated system of gardens and natural landscape named “San-sui” (green and water) has been developed in Heiankyo. The system of San-sui shows a type of fractal pattern through geographical location and spatial scale. It has been identified repeatedly in various aspects of urban space from landscape in regional scale through residential environment in human scale as well. On the contrary, the area of Heijokyo has been taking quite different course of ecological process. After relocation of the capitol in late 8th century, agricultural development has recovered gradually following the geometrical pattern of streets and residential lots in the abandoned city by manipulating irrigation system on micro topography. These images of ecological sustainability that has been extended from beginning of the city’s establishment toward the future through the present days are visual reflections of landscape urbanism in the historical urban space.


Shunsaku Miyagi

Master of Landscape Architecture (Harvard University, Graduate School of Design), Ph.D. (Kyoto University). As a practicing landscape architect and co-founder/partner of PLACEMEDIA, a Toyko-based landscape design firm, Mr. Miyagi has been engaged in numerous landscape and urban planning/design projects both domestic and overseas. Throughout his extensive professional experience, it has been acknowledged that the value of urbanism should be redefined in contemporary and global context of environmental issues. Ecological process will be the key term to be considered in this respect and reflected on the landscape.