When you listen to the citizens of Fujisawa SST, you could be in a Disney movie. But this town is real. Ecological, smart, and focused on good will...
From the air, it looks like a town the Sims might live in. Well designed, clean, with small houses surrounded by gardens. But that’s not what makes it special.
Fujisawa SST stands out as a model. The SST says it all – it’s short for Sustainable Smart Town. Built on the site of an old factory 50 kilometers from Tokyo, Fujisawa SST is laying the foundations for a new kind of urban harmony.
Spread over 19 hectares, the town has a thousand homes designed with a view to sustainability. Every roof is covered with solar panels and the energy produced is stored for optimal use – the internal system optimizing equipment use. Eventually, the town intends to make use of wind and geothermal energy and manage the energy savings so efficiently it will be able to sell its surplus to neighboring cities. Fujisawa has set itself the challenge of reducing CO2 emissions by 70%, water use by 30% and of using more than 30% renewable energy. A fleet of electric vehicles and electric bikes is available - the hope being that most people will not even feel the need to own their own car.
The ecological aspects apart, it is the sense of community is most striking. Residents are invited to get involved in the community and the focus is on good will. Older people are encouraged to play with children and to pass on their knowledge and culture, some parents help schoolchildren in difficulty catch up, mothers might organize cooking classes, a virtuoso ukulele player will give lessons to a group of interested people... There is also a system for group purchases of food to get the best prices and for jointly investing in certain projects.
In Fujisawa SST, everyone is encouraged to put forward their ideas for improvements and the most popular are implemented by the Square, the town’s landmark, in charge of its management - ideas for improving mutual assistance and sharing knowledge and expertise are especially prized. A points system recognizes and rewards the most active citizens in both this respect and in energy savings.
Fujisawa SST is a public-private partnership. Panasonic was the driving force behind it and its CEO, Masahiro Ido, made his intention clear: to create a “lifestyle” with 100 year objectives - no less. Among the companies involved in the experiment are NTT, the Japanese France Telecom and Accenture. Although Fusijawa SST has cost 750 million euros to build, Panasonic believes it should be possible to export the concept. And in addition it will serve as a showcase for the skills of partner companies such as the one that installed “virtual grills” which improve safety by preventing intruders getting in to the town. Security has not been neglected: when a person or vehicle moves around at night, lights turn on in the area concerned. A discrete, efficient and environmentally friendly system.
Although the town opened in late 2014, building will only be completed in 2018. And it will certainly be examined from all angles. Will its citizens flourish or could some people find it restrictive in the long term?
For the time being the people that have decided to live in Fujisawa SST sing its praises. Some even ecstatically talk about a “city bathed in happiness”, “where new discoveries are made every day”, “a place where dreams come true”, “a city that is making history”...
"My hope is that Fujisawa becomes the standard for smart cities worldwide," says one parent. Which says it all.
Main picture: Fujisawa SST Council