Three public housing blocks in Tokyo’s Kita ward have been registered as tangible cultural properties by Japan’s Council for Cultural Affairs. The historic building registration was formalized in December 2019. These are the first public housing blocks in the country to receive a national heritage listing.
The three star-shaped apartment blocks form part of the Akabanedai Danchi complex just west of Akabane Station. The five-story reinforced concrete buildings were completed in 1962. They are currently unoccupied, with the goal of eventually opening them up to public tours.
The Akabanedai Danchi was the first large-scale project by the former Japan Housing Agency (now the Urban Renaissance Agency). There were 3,373 apartments over 55 buildings. The apartments had their own baths – a rarity for public housing at the time – and being selected via the public lottery system for a residence in this danchi housing project was considered a big deal.
Originally there were eight of these ‘star house’ buildings. Due to the aging and deterioration of the complex, several are in the process of being gradually demolished and replaced with new ones.
The star-shaped buildings became popular in the 1950s and 1960s as they allowed good light and airflow for residents. They began popping up in various public housing complexes. The three remaining Star Houses in Akabanedai Danchi are the oldest examples in the Kanto region.
The Nikkei Shimbun, January 4, 2020.
The Nikkei Shimbun, July 19, 2019.
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