Source: Mitsui Fudosan
Streetscape of Kashiwa-no-ha.
An ultra-ageing society and a stagnant economy were some of the
contemporary urban challenges that led to the birth of Kashiwa-no-ha
Smart City (柏の葉スマートシティ). During the turn of the millennium, the
Chiba Prefecture Government initiated this 273ha development at the
northern part of Kashiwa City (柏市) to create a collaborative platform that
could transform the area formerly occupied by the United States Air Force
Communication Base and Mitsui Fudosan’s Kashiwa Golf Club.
Over the last decade, the city has brought together various stakeholders,
including the public sector (i.e. the Chiba Prefecture Government and
the Kashiwa City Government), the private sector (e.g. Mitsui Fudosan,
Metropolitan Intercity Railway Company, etc.), academia (i.e. the University of
Tokyo and the Chiba University) and non-profit organisations to create a nextgeneration
city for its population of 4,124 that is projected to grow to 26,000
eventually. A key player is the Urban Design Center Kashiwa-no-ha (UDCK),
an independent organisation formed, managed and funded by the different
partners. It functions as a research think-tank, collaboration coordinator, knowledge sharing centre and place management agency. Not only does
UDCK research, analyse and propose new urban planning concepts, it also
implements, designs and manages developments. Major research projects
include advanced transportation-oriented development, urban regeneration
and urban development in an aging society. UDCK also organises community
activities to inject life into the town and raise awareness on urban design.
Kashiwa-no-ha is 25 km away from Downtown Tokyo, and is accessible by a 23-min train ride from
Akihabara Station (in Downtown Tokyo) via the Tsukuba Express.
Source: Tsukuba Express
Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City was designed from the ground-up around the
principles of Transportation-Oriented Development, with the Kashiwa-noha
Campus Station as its epicentre. Spread within two kilometres of this
station are the campuses of the University of Tokyo and the Chiba University,
research facilities, commercial developments, residential blocks, hospital,
childcare centres, parks and other urban facilities. The station is also
seamlessly connected to Kashiwa-no-ha Gate Square, a mixed-use integrated
development that is the hub of the development of a smart city. Besides
housing a compact shopping mall, LaLaport Kashiwanoha, the Gate Square
also hosts various facilities that is helping the city get smarter in managing its
citizens’ health, as well as its energy needs and economy.
Keeping the Community Healthy
Located on the third floor of the LaLaport Kashiwanoha is the Town
Health Station, a one-stop healthcare support hub. This is the flagship of
the Healthcare Innovation Project (HIP), an on-going academic-industrial
partnership between the University of Tokyo Institute of Gerontology and
Kashiwa City to redesign its infrastructure to better meet the demands of
its ageing population and extend their years of being independent. Besides
providing assisted living facilities, 24-hour visiting nurses and individualised
mobility assistance for the elderly, the city also now offers non-strenuous job
opportunities, such as in childcare centres or vertical farms.
Sakura trees and flowering shrubs planted on the green verge of Kashiwa-no-ha’s streets add
colour and prevents pedestrians from jaywalking.
Inside the Town Health Station are an array of preventive medicine facilities,
health counselling and health services for residents around the clock. This
includes clinics, a gym, studios for dance and yoga classes, as well as space to
host health-related events. Beyond providing the hardware, Kashiwa-no-ha is
also encouraging its residents to develop healthy lifestyles through a health
promotion system. The Community Health Lab ASHITA is a community-run
health information centre where individuals can volunteer to share their
knowledge and experience on exercise and diet. There is also a Smart Health
Project pilot to utilise Information Technology to analyse health data collected
from the community in order to provide appropriate counselling and treatment
Besides developments that squarely address citizens’ health, the city is also
designed in a compact nature to encourage walking and cycling. Its roads are
wide and there are segregated cycling paths as well as ample bicycle parking
spaces strategically provided near the station, along cycling routes and at
developments. Over the past decade, Kashiwa-no-ha has seen a 10% reduction
in automobile ownership, which in turn reduces carbon emissions and
promotes a healthier lifestyle. The city is now experimenting with multi-modal mobility stations that let residents rent bicycles and electric vehicles as well as
hail buses on-demand. These stations and other intelligent systems also collect
data that will be useful for formulating the city’s future transportation policies.
A health-related exhibition at Community Health Lab ASHITA.
On-demand bus service terminating at the West Exit of Kashiwa-no-ha Campus Station.
A Model of Energy Efficiency
Housed within the Kashiwa-no-ha Gate Square is also a Smart Center that
monitors and manages the electricity usage of buildings within the entire
district, even during a disaster and emergency. The Area Energy Management
System (AEMS) contains a system of independently-operated smart power
grids that can visualise energy consumption. It can also efficiently optimise
the distribution of energy from various sources of localised renewable energy
producers (e.g. solar panels, storage battery) as well as power companies.
This system has successfully reduced the district’s peak consumption by 26%.
The rental homes in this development also have a Home Energy Management
System (HEMS) that uses artificial intelligence to visualise the energy
consumptions of each unit. Residents can thus help conserve energy too,
making the city more environmentally friendly.
Solar panels are installed on the façade of the district’s Energy Building, instead of a typical
Some of the street furnitures in Kashiwa-no-ha Harappa can be converted into make-shift
barbeque pit for cooking and warmth during emergency evacuations.
Many Pathways Towards a Smart City
Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City demonstrates how a “smart city” needs to look
beyond using technology to be successful and liveable. It has also piloted
numerous environmental, health and economic initiatives to ensure urban
sustainability without compromising quality of life. Through an innovative
Public-Private-Academic Partnership, mass collaborations and active
involvement of the stakeholders, the Kashiwa-no-ha Smart City model also
encourages bottom-up community building, giving its residents a greater
sense of belonging to the city.
About the Writer
See Boon Ping
Boon Ping is a researcher from the Centre for Liveable Cities who is
involved in local master planning, active mobility and urban design
studies. He also manages the partnership with Japanese government
institutions and urban planning think-tanks. Boon Ping graduated
from Nanyang Technological University School of Art, Design & Media
with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in Visual Communication.
The writer would like to thank Ong Eng Kian, Tan Guan Hong and
Deborah Chan for their assistance and advice.