Kobe / Tobu Shintoshin / HAT Kobe Development Plan

March 1995

Ikuo Kobayashi / Community development company CO‐PLAN,Inc.

Text by Yu Nakano

Kobe / Tobu Shintoshin / HAT Kobe Development Plan


Ikuo Kobayashi / Community development company CO‐PLAN,Inc.


HAT Kobe’s development plan is considered to be one of the symbol projects of Kobe City’s Reconstruction Plan. I asked Mr. Tatsuo Kobayashi how the plan progressed from before the earthquake into its present state after the earthquake, and what the objectives were as a symbol project.


HAT Kobe Pre-earthquake Development plan

Harborland was completed just before the bubble burst. The plan was started around 1986, and while it would normally take about 10 years to complete, it was completed in 5-6 years, in 1991. I remember that the work was difficult because of the speed of things.

With the completion of Harborland, the downtown area in the west was completed, and the area around Kobe Station has been improved, focusing on Sannomiya. To maintain balance in the city, there was talk about making a city center in the east, and the development plan of HAT Kobe started. The present HAT Kobe is located on the oldest landfill site of the former Kobe Steel and Kawasaki Steel, which was reclaimed in the early Meiji period to be filled, and there used to be a steel mill which was considered to be one of the oldest known. By the time Harborland was completed, Kobe Steel and Kawasaki Steel had new plants in different places, and there was no need for steelworks in the middle of the city especially with the problem of smoke coming out of the plants. It was decided that this area no longer wanted factories. We became involved with the HAT Kobe Plan because when the issue of how to reuse the site came into public discussion, my office was already developing the Harborland plan so Kobe Steel requested that we continue to work with them.


Specializing in urban design on the waterfront

My master’s thesis was a plan for the port area and the theme was urban design on the waterfront. I also worked to plan for Port Island and Rokko Island. All were around the port area, and while the location was in the sea, it was not necessarily in contact with the water.

We also made a development plan for Harborland, but we could not do enough planning along the seafront in the port area of the harbor zone due to it being entry prohibited zones. HAT Kobe was the first development plan by the sea in the truest sense. This plan was launched in 1992, and Kobe City also participated around the end of 1994. As we considered how to improve the new eastern city center, the downtown area, Harborland, in the west became a commercial facility, so there was a consensus that the central area in the east would be a business/office area, and we would invite businesses to set up their offices there. In order to do that, it is necessary to create an image, so we started by attracting the Kobe Center of the WHO World Health Organization and bringing in the health industry. Also, since the seafront is a harbor area, it cannot become a residential area. After that, around 1994, the north side of the large space in the central area was going to be urban development, and as the south side was undergoing plans for a port-like development, the year became January 1995.


HAT Kobe plan after the earthquake

Initially, the committee of the basic plan was scheduled to start from around March to April of 1995, and the disaster struck right when the rough basic policy had been decided. According to the policy the north and south areas were to be developed through the construction of a large road to go through the center as a framework of the city, so earthquake reconstruction proceeded as planned. However, considering the situation of the earthquake, instead of recruiting business facilities and offices to the south, the plan shifted to focus on reconstruction housing. After the earthquake, although it was known that reconstruction housing was overwhelmingly necessary, there was no space in the downtown area, so the HAT Kobe space was inevitably used as a residential site.



Quitting temporary housing, and rebuild permanent housing

Before the earthquake, we planned to create about 800 weekly houses as a long-term hotel facility. With the occurrence of the earthquake, the plan was changed to building a total of 6,500 reconstruction homes, about eight times the original plan. In the end, I think it was a good idea because it was necessary.

Additionally, there was an industrial area near Kobe Steel and Kawasaki Steel Head Office on the north side from the national highway, which was rare for Kobe. Before the earthquake, all that land combined, the Kobe Steel and Kawasaki Steel area, 70ha by the sea, and the land in the center owned by Kobe City were going to be rezoned. The floor-area ratio of the harbor district in the industrial area is 200%, and by raising the residential area to 200% and the commercial area by at least 400 to 600%, the real estate value of the land becomes 10 times higher, generating great profit. We plan to use the development profit in the northern part of Kashiwa Station and the surrounding dense urban area, and use the profit generated in the southern part in the dense northern city area to manage HAT Kobe as a whole.


Change of direction due to the earthquake

However, the earthquake occurs. It would take development on the north side would take over 10 years to complete, and the housing for the victims would not be ready in time. The project quickly changed direction to creating houses in the southern area. Due to the occurrence of the earthquake disaster, the center of the city would be made into a global disaster prevention base. However, the locations of schools and art museums were not changed from the original plan.

I had been working on the basic plan and basic design for about three years, but since only the framework was decided, I shifted to the direction to earthquake disaster reconstruction while making use of the previous plans. I think changes would have been difficult if the plan had already progressed more than it had.

On the south side is the harbor area, where research and development facilities and exchange facilities were originally supposed to be built. After the earthquake, housing became a priority, so houses were built instead.


The City Center: Largest Project Since the Bubble Economy

Hyogo Prefecture raised funds and attracted JICA and hospitals to the center. HAT Kobe as a whole was to be be positioned as a symbol project of the disaster area. Projects such as housing, and large facilities such as the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution were the very view visible large-scale projects at the time, and HAT Kobe was possibly the one one at that scale, since it was already after the bubble economy burst and space was unavailable.

Usually, a project at this large scale would take 15 years to complete the whole plan and landscape guidance, landscaping, and disaster prevention plans. But it was completed in a very short amount of time. In the end, I think it took only about five years.


How to Pass on the Earthquake to Posterity

While there are many exhibition facilities that function primarily as just that, the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution is unique in that it combines a research institute and exhibition facility to function as a memorial facility after the earthquake. A full-time researcher is present, and the Institution not only presents exhibitions and maintains an archive, but also is a base that conducts research as a means to fulfil its role in “passing on” the memory of the earthquake.

It is imperative to maintain the importance of passing on information, and how not to forget the experience, through these various reconstruction projects. For example, if the damage from the Sanriku tsunami in the Meiji period was passed down well, it might have affected the extent of damage after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The stories of the tsunami may be transmitted from now on in the wake of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, but the fact that 100,000 people had died in the fire that occurred during the Great Kanto Earthquake is not widely known.

In the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, houses collapsed. Based on the experience of the Chuetsu Earthquake in Niigata, we are trying to connect the places that were damaged with a dispersed memorial route called Corridor.

The affected areas are concentrated in Kobe, and it was possible to create HAT Kobe without dispersion. In the future, I think it is necessary to continue closely observing how Tohoku will develop.

Initial research


March 1995

Background and objectives

The maintenance plan for the Tobu Shintoshin is considered one of the symbol projects in the “Kobe City Reconstruction Plan,” a plan for recovery from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of June 1995. When large-scale factory became idle, the land was planned to be converted, introducing implementation of new city functions, equipping of the waterfront, and revitalizing of the region, alongside comprehensive infrastructural projects that would play a leading role in rebuilding housing and local industry that was severely damaged from the earthquake. (cited from Kobe City Web site)


In line with land use conversion due to the large-scale factory becoming idle, taking on housing, industry, etc. in the urban area that was severely damaged by the earthquake. (quoted from the Kobe City Website)


1.Creation of attractive waterfront public space

2.Activation of the area including the surroundings

3.Formation of a new city center

4.Formation of a base of international activities (quoted from Kobe City Website)

Founder / Organizer

Kobe City


Tobu Shintoshin (HAT Kobe) is an area located in the waterfront, about 2 km east from Sannomiya, the city center of Kobe. The area stretches about 1.0 km north to south and 2.2 km east to west.


2-2-2 Wakihama Coast, Chuo Ward, Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture