size: 76x50,5 cm
Text (annual report 2000-Japan Highway Public Corporation)
video loop (mini-dv, dvd)
duration: 2.50 min
©Jesper Nordahl 2001
Jesper Nordahl Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway, 2001 Apart from being a network
of expressways connecting the city center of Tokyo with more remote districts,
Metropolitan Expressway is also a series of photographs and a video installation
by Jesper Nordahl. The distinct profile of the expressway has been caught in
the camera's eye as it cuts through the cityscape, embodying yesterday's visionary
conception of the future, which first emerged at the time of the Olympic Games
in Tokyo in 1964. According to the "Annual Report 2000" of Nihon Doro Kodan/Japan
Expressway Public Corporation, this expressway system not only respects topographical
and geological conditions (each section of the expressway being built to withstand
earthquakes), but it also respects inter-human and environmental relations,
with high-level traffic security, soundbarriers and underground tunnels, when
necessary. Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway is a kind of architectural archetype,
and such items have been fascinating for Jesper Nordahl in other cases, resulting
in several series of works. One example would be the series on the practical
conglomerations of gas stations and mosques (Gasoline and God, 2000), or the
documentation of buildings in the Latvian city of Karosta (2001), once a Russian
military port, today a place for free trade. Since 1993, this city has been
the object of a project called "CCMS" (Committee on the Challenge of a Modern
Society) - however with the grim addition: "clean up project." These places
are all characterized by somehow being in a state of political, economical,
or cultural transition, places where the architecture sometimes reflects its
surroundings, and sometimes not. According to Nihon Doro Kodan/Japan Expressway
Public Corporation (section "Process of Construction") it normally takes 10
to 15 years to complete the construction of an expressway. At present, after
nearly forty years, 128.4 kilometers of the express way are still under construction.
In spite of this, Jesper Nordahl's photographs do not provide the viewer with
any sense of transcendence, they don't tell us that the expressway will have
changed dramatically when the photographer next returns to Japan to resume his
documentary work. The photographs and the videos are always done by using a
stationary camera and in static profile: you never experience the feeling of
the intensive circulatory system that the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway constitutes
in the city. The works become a stubborn and formally conscious portrayal according
to vertical and horizontal coordinates, with the sky as an ever present and
final backdrop. In Delirious New York (1978), Rem Koolhaas praises the city
for having finally replaced nature with artifice. With its "incomplete" (perhaps
"incompleted" would be a better word) and vertically ascendant topography, Tokyo
Metropolitan Expressway displays qualities that also could be found in Koolhaas's
"Generic City," but it undoubtedly belongs to reality, and Jesper Nordahl's
photographs underline this fact once more.
(text: Mats Stiernstedt, originally published in "SITE",
The first section, stretching 4.5 kilometres from Takara-cho in Chuoku to Kaigan
in Minato-ku, was completed in 1962. The initial aim was to connect
the scattered gymnasiums and stadiums built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The
various arranged supporting columns are in parts as high as 40 metres. They
are specially designed to withstand earthquakes, with each section of road capable
of moving by a maximum of 20 centimetres.*
Facilities on National Motorways
As access to national motorways in Japan is fully controlled, interchanges,
service areas, parking areas and bus stops are provided as essential facilities.
Service areas and parking areas are provided as rest facilities alongside national
motorways. A service area has parking lots, open spaces, filling stations, repair
shops, restaurants, food shops, free public houses, and lavatories, while a
parking area has only parking lots, open spaces, food shops and lavatories.
Service areas are generally constructed at intervals of about every 50km and
parking areas at every 15km. NDK has been promoting the construction of "Highway
Oasis" through 18 individual projects, out of which fifteen projects are already
completed. "High-way Oasis" is a joint-development project with developers of
leisure facilities (natural parks, historic parks, etc.) next to a motorway's
rest facilities. NDK constructs an access road to the facilities to help the
developers. Motorway users can use the leisure facilities on the way to their
final destinations without leaving the motorway, thus avoiding incurring extra
costs and time.
Motorways are carefully located so as to cause minimum interference on urban
and natural environments and places of cultural and historical interest. In
almost all cases, environmental impact reports are prepared and presented at
public hearings for those living in places where motorways are planned.
Motorways are designed having regard not only to topography, geophysical conditions,
construction costs, land acquisition difficulties and traffic safety, but also
to the impact on the environment. Noise barriers, buffer zones formed of dense
trees and shrubs, earth banks and anti-noise tunnels and semi underground structures
are introduced where these are considered to be necessary. Compensation for
Motorway Pollution When significant pollution to roadside areas is caused by
the execution of road works or the operation of motorways, appropriate compensation
is made according to the circumstances.
OUTLINE OF NIHON DORO KODAN, NDK
- Japan Highway Public Corporation -
As at 1st August, 2000
Establishment: 16th April, 1956
Capital:ˇ1,958,314Million Number of
Business .National Motorways in operation 6,666km, under construction 2,398km
Regional Motorways in operation 824.2km, under construction 128.4km
Car Parks Tokyo and Fukuoka Location of Head Office: Tokyo
Regional Bureaus: Hokkaido, Tohoku, Hokuriku, Kansai, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu
Construction Bureaus: Tokyo, Shizuoka and Nagoya Operation Bureaus: Tokyo (3)
NDK introduced CI (Corporate Identity) activities as JH (Japan Highway). CI
activities are introduced into an organisation for the purpose of improving
its public image and revitalising the organisation.
The NDK's CI activities have included establishing its corporate philosophy.
The Corporate Statement of NDK (JH) is shown below:
CORPORATE STATEMENT OF JH CORPORATE PHILOSOPHY
JH contributes to building an affluent and healthy society by creating a network
of comfortable and reliable road space, envisaging the future.
JH aims at an early completion of the highway network harmonised with local
communities and natural surroundings.
JH provides user-oriented services.
JH utilises all its available resources for efficient management.
JH further enhances its engineering capabilities using technological innovation.
JH strengthens public relations.
JH creates a lively atmosphere in the office.
GUIDELINES FOR INDIVIDUALS
We communicate sincerely respecting others interests.
We take up challenges positively with flexible thinking.
We perform cost-effectively to carry out jobs efficiently.
We keep rejuvenating our minds and bodies.
Creating Roads for Our Future
Text (annual report 2000-Japan Highway Public Corporation)
*Tokyo, a guide to recent architecture, Noriyuki Tajima)
still from the video "Kawaguchi", 2001