June 15, 2004


Urban Planning for The Next Generation

* This article is under copyright protection.

Manabu Akaike
Universal Design Intelligence Inc.

Coexistence of Economics with Ecology

With the underlying theme of the co-existence of economics with ecology, Huis Ten Bosch located in Sasebo City of Nagasaki Prefecture is a practical experiment in community planning that harmonizes man with nature.

Huis Ten Bosch welcomed about 3.8 million visitors in the year 2000, not just tourists but also a large number of community planners and developers from the public and private sectors all over the world. This proves that Huis Ten Bosch is not just a simple theme park but a real example of next generation community planning.

Huis Ten Bosch encompasses about 151.8 hectares of land that was originally reclaimed by the prefectural government for industrial use, but had been abandoned when development plans did not materialize. Reclaimed land tends to be poor in quality for both drainage and water retention purposes, and soil quality also tends to be poor. In order to create a rich natural environment, Huis Ten Bosch planners first embarked on a soil improvement project. The soil was aerated through excavation work and high quality soil together with fertilizer were incorporated before planting was begun. The trees that line the streets and the flower beds that enliven the town were all due to these soil improvement efforts.

Huis Ten Bosch faces onto Omura Bay, and planners incorporated the ocean front and tributary rivers into the overall life of the park, while remaining extremely thorough about planning for maximum water usage efficiency and advanced sewage treatment facilities. One aspect of water management includes a desalination plant which helps ensure sufficient water supply during times of drought or major increase in visitor traffic. This plant can turn out 1,000 tons of fresh water from seawater in a day. The drainage treatment system that was built to keep the surrounding ocean clean is another important component of resource planning at Huis Ten Bosch. Ordinary drainage treatment passes the dirty water through three separate processes before it meets clean water standards for discharge back into the rivers or ocean. But at Huis Ten Bosch, this triple processed drainage water is not clean enough to meet standards for discharge into Omura Bay, and so it passed through advanced processing to create even cleaner water. But even this water is not discharged back into the ocean. Instead it is used to supply cooling towers, as toilet water, and to water trees and plantings. As this water in turn drains away, it enters the drainage treatment system again and thus is continually reused in a highly efficient cycle.

Cleaner Water Brings back the Insects

Besides its advanced water management techniques, Huis Ten Bosch also practices highly efficient energy management, including the use of cogenerators for both generating power and cooling purposes, lower late night utility rates and heat storage.

Compostable garbage which amounts to about three tons a day is recycled using original technology to create compost, which is used to fertilize in-park plantings. The introduction of the compost recycling program has resulted in a reduction of almost 80% in the amount of fossil fuel used to incinerate burnable garbage, and a 40% reduction in dioxide emissions, making for major savings in consumed energy as well as cleaner air. This recycling system was developed by the Huis Ten Bosch Environmental Research Group which enjoy the participation of about one hundred companies both within and outside Nagasaki Prefecture. This same environmental group has developed a biodegradable material for use in garbage bags, so that the bag can be composted together with the compostable garbage it serves to collect. Ongoing research and experimental programs like these lie behind the production and consumption cycles that take place every day at Huis Ten Bosch, so that the community is in a state of continual improvement and progress.

Let's take a look at how Huis Ten Bosch was constructed. Most modern urban construction starts with asphalt road paving, placement of riverside concrete embankments and other activities that tend to destroy the balance of nature. But Huis Ten Bosch took its starting point from the way cities and towns come to being in the Netherlands, thereby realizing a coexistence between man and nature. About one-third of the national territory of the Netherlands consists of land reclaimed through drainage. Many years passed to allow natural forest growth to develop on the reclaimed land before the forests were cut back to allow towns and cities to be built, and this cycle was repeated over and over through history.

At the basis of this method of city planning is the idea of creating a space for humans to inhabit while causing as little destruction as possible to the balance of nature. Another example of this type of methodology is the use of bricks to lay the sidewalks, which helps rainwater to penetrate the soil surface and helps prevent floods. Environmental facilities at the water edge are constructed of natural stone and earth, so the diverse population of marine animals can live healthy lives in clean water. Huis Ten Bosch has put into practice all of these ideas and more.

JAPAN CLOSE-UP, September 2002, published by PHP

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