Could a new city and a mile-high tower prevent natural disasters in Tokyo?

Next Tokyo. Image: Kohn Pederson Fox Associates.

Tokyo is a low-lying city with a long stretch of coastline, due to the shape of Tokyo Bay. This means that, thanks to climate change and its accompanying typhoons, earthquakes and floods, parts of  the city could be in trouble in coming years.

So architects and engineers have been coming up with ways solutions to these future crisis. The solutions which immediately spring to mind include flood barriers, or even trying to raise the ground level at the city's edges.

But one group has come forward with a slightly more complex plan: build an entirely new city on reclaimed islands in the bay to defend against floods. 

If that weren't complex enough, the proposal, dubbed Next Tokyo, would include a mile high skyscraper to house half a million residents, which, in order to supply the upper floors with water, would harvest moisture from the clouds. Oh, and it would also contain cable-free elevators which go sideways as well as up and down. Simple. 

The city's transport needs would be served by a hyperloop: a transport system which fires pods around a closed loop, developed Elon Musk, which, at time of writing, still just a concept.

The proposal, Next Tokyo 2045, comes jointly from Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, an architecture firm, and Leslie E Robertson Associates, a structural engineering firm. Here's a rendering of the city:

The city would stretch across Tokyo bay in a series of hexagonal configurations in order to act as an ocean barrier: 

It would also be part of a larger land reclamation effort, to be carried out over time throughout the bay (the different colours indicate different phases of reclamation):

The idea was submitted as a research paper to the Council on Tall Buildings & Urban Habitat in 2015, and isn't likely to become an immediate reality: unsurprising, given that it contains phrases like "cloud harvesting as a water source". But given that many major cities are on the water, and the water levels are going to continue to rise, we need as many suggestions as we can get. 

All images: Kohn Pederson Fox Associates.


Depressing housing chart of the week: oh, so that's why millennials don't vote

A much sought after area. Image: Getty.

One of the mysteries of contemporary politics is: why is it so hard to get young people to vote?

Government policy, after all, tends to reflect the interests of the old, for the entirely rational reason that the old actually bother to show up at the polling booth. The result has been tuition fees, soaring house prices and a triple lock on pensions funded by a generation who may never get to retire at all.

So why, when they're being so comprehensively stuffed, aren't young people showing up and making their voices heard?

Well, lots of reasons, one suspects. But here's one I've not heard discussed very often: because most of them rent.

Earlier today the Resolution Foundation tweeted this chart from the “Intergenerational Commission” which it launched in July. It shows, well, look:

By contrast, when young, even millennials who own their own home – and who owns their own home at 22? – were less likely than boomer renters to vote.

Nonetheless, housing tenure is pretty clearly a factor here. In every generation, and at every age, homeowners were more likely to vote than renters. Among those millennials pushing 30, homeowners are not that far off twice as likely to vote as renters. As the Resolution Foundation tweet says: “Fewer than 2 in 3 private renters are even on the electoral register.”

There's an obvious explanation for this: renting is unstable. Renters move more frequently, not always by choice, and so are less likely – less able – to set down roots in a particular constituency.

And if you're moving every six or none months, between getting your post redirected and the wifi reconnected, registering with the Electoral Commission yet again is one of those jobs that might just slip off your to do list.

So – there are fewer millennials. They're less likely to vote anyway. And this tendency is massively amplified by the fact that a sizeable majority of them rent. All the pressure on politicians is to keep house prices high, and to serve the interests of landlords rather than their tenants, and so the cycle continues.

It's really very depressing.

The Intergenerational Commission, incidentally, is an 18 months investigation into fairness between generations, chaired by former universities minister David Willetts. I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess this isn't the last time the subject of housing will come up in its work.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @jonnelledge.

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