Kyoto urbanism. This two story lot was recently renovated to three units in front and two in back, with a central miniature courtyard, accessed via two small alleys (one covered). 300m²/3230ft². Homes or businesses bringing in about $7600 in monthly rents, about $25/m². Not bad.
It might not beat London's skinniest home in terms of worth but it is probably more productive in terms of jobs, tax incomes, etc. Things are better fine grained.
The only way to get returns like this is to build to the human scale. Even then Kyoto has trains connecting it to Osaka (a city that alone has a similar GDP as New Zealand), a bus network, and a subway. Very little space is wasted on parking lots and highways, access ramps etc.
"But hey that is a lot of money to pay for such little space?" Yeah, because we build almost nothing like this anymore while keeps demand growing. The walkable neighborhood is rapidly going extinct. If we built more the pressure would not be so insane on the few remaining ones.

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More from @wrathofgnon

17 Feb
Kitayama Village is probably the most amazing village in Japan that most people have never heard of. Population is a mere 432, 97% forest, it is the only place in the world that grows the citrus fruit known as Jabara, which contains unique natural anti-inflammatory compounds.
That this fruit even exists is a miracle. When the feudal system was abolished in 1871, the isolated village was forgotten and ended up an enclave between Nara and Mie Prefectures. The villagers promptly decided to join Wakayama Prefecture, as that was where their market lay.
The forests surrounding the village is home to wild monkeys, who would conduct raids on the local orchards and fruit trees. Nothing was spared. Except one tree that grew an odd seedless yuzu-esque fruit that the monkeys for some reason hated. So the villagers started growing it.
Read 7 tweets
15 Feb
The self sufficient town of the short lived Kamei Castle near Hiroshima as it might have looked in 1610, pop. 500-1000. The castle, built in 1608, was ordered torn down in 1611. Beautifully painted by @mazegenta, one of the best painters of historical reconstructions in Japan.
You can see the individual villas belonging to the higher ranking samurai families, complete with defensive walls, gates, guard posts. Like miniature castles themselves, but built in walls. Closer to the water are the homes of craftsmen, fishermen, merchants, farmers, etc.
To the south over the highway is where the main defenses are located: fortified guard houses, town wall. To the north, over the road towards Hiroshima, is a smaller gatehouse, customs house, and probably an inn or two.
Read 4 tweets
11 Feb
Without the clever, handmade bamboo fences, called “magaki”, life in the cliffside fishing villages of the Noto peninsula on the north coast of Japan would be practically impossible. Up to five meter tall, they effectively protect the villages from fierce northern wind and brine.
Every November locals repair and rebuild the bamboo fences where necessary, using materials that grow naturally a few hundred meters away. In a market economy this would be impossibly expensive, but with volunteers it is cheap, fun and easy.
Although not strictly necessary in spring and summer, most people leave the magaki up as it helps to protect against the harsh Western sunlight. These all year fences are called mannengaki. I also imagine it helps in attracting tourism.
Read 4 tweets
5 Feb
The first truly global pandemic, the Russian Flu of 1889 lasted until 1895 and current studies seem to identify it as an early covid, very similar to what we have today. It started in Bukhara and spread extremely rapidly worldwide. It reached Japan by early spring 1890.
In Japan it became known as Osomekaze, an old slang for influenza-like diseases. Osome was also the name of the heroine of a hugely famous 1710 play based on a real and very tragic love story that took place in Osaka in 1708. A rich girl, Osome, falls in love with a poor boy.
The boy's name was Hisamatsu, and in 1890 the writer Okamoto Kido (1872-1939) wrote in jest a newspaper column where he suggested people should just tell Ms. Osome that young Mr. Hisamatsu was not in to ward of the influenza. To his surprise, the joke caught on...
Read 5 tweets
5 Feb
You can't stop a river from flooding, you can only merely postpone it. In Japan there are many farms built on vulnerable flood plains, in the old days ppl constructed Mizuya (water houses), built on top of a Mizutzuka (water mounds): an elevated shelter for the inevitable floods.
The mounds were built in stages, with barns and other buildings that weren't damaged by a flood on the lowest stage. On the middle stage were the main living quarters, usually safe in flood, but for the most sever floods, a Mizuya was built, usually 2-4m above its surroundings.
The Mizuya were built with two levels, the bottom had food stores, perishables, tools, while the second level had bedding, emergency rations. It was designed to allow a dozen people or more to survive for weeks. It also stored boats, for rescue operations, on the ceiling rafters.
Read 8 tweets
1 Feb
Everyone is into architecture, and everyone is into sustainability right? Hereby announcing a new worldwide annual architecture competition: "A home for a thousand years". Entrants will be judged on how likely they are to be still around in a thousand years time. Meet the judges:
Criteria (pending):
1. How likely is it that the materials the house is made of will still be around in a thousand years: will the original materials last, or if a complete replacement needed, will it be available?
2. How likely is it that the skills needed to build and maintain the house will be passed down each generation for around 30 generations? How likely is it that the necessary tools, and the knowledge to use them, will still be around?
Read 6 tweets

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