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The Tokyo Effect: Article 1 of 3

Living in the
world’s safest city

French architect Albert Abut makes Tokyo home.

Albert Abut

Photography by Cody Ellingham

Tokyo is an ultramodern, dynamic metropolis of 13.9 million people that extends for over 2,000 square kilometers, intersected by an extensive transport network.

Japan's capital is where innovation meets tradition, and The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked it as the safest city in the world in its 2019 Safe Cities Index survey. The safety of Japan's largest city is one of the main reasons French architect Albert Abut moved to Tokyo in 1983 to establish his career and start a family.


As a seismically active country, Japan has some of the world's most advanced earthquake-resistant building technology. Tokyo has been building its resilience against disasters ever since the last great earthquake in 1923.

87% of homes in Tokyo are reportedly earthquake-proof. Skyscrapers are built using some of the strictest building codes in the world and newer buildings are showcasing many innovative anti-seismic features, such as large dampers that absorb the shock of the shaking by moving in the opposite direction of the swaying of a quake.


Life in Tokyo

Albert Abut Architecture est 1990, Tokyo

As an architect, Abut also appreciates Tokyo's attention to detail in homes and even infrastructure. For example, when he was caught on the highway as the 2011 earthquake made Tokyo rumble, he was amazed the asphalt stayed solid and did not burst.

Abut has also long been intrigued by Japan's general history and traditions, such as the Zen Buddhism-inspired minimalism. Such simplicity involves attention to detail.


Tokyo: From Within

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