In Japan, these days, social demand for the preservation and conservation of station buildings is growing. There are even examples of entire railway lines being registered as a network of cultural properties that includes station buildings and other related facilities as well, an approach that applies to advantage the character of a railway line. Meanwhile, registering station buildings as tangible cultural properties is also viewed as a regional opportunity. Expectations are high that more of these station buildings able to become symbols and tourism resources that contribute to regional activation will be preserved and conserved, for the sake of Japan’s regional vitalization, hereafter.
Amid this social environment, this study specifically examines station buildings registered as tangible cultural properties throughout Japan. By looking at both station buildings still operating as stations and former station buildings which have been given new roles, it endeavors to clarify their architectural concepts when first built and their current conditions, and to contribute thereby to the preservation and conservation of station buildings in our country.
This paper (2) focuses on 16 former station buildings no longer in service among the station buildings registered as tangible cultural properties. It analyzes each station’s historical transitions, architectural concept, its state of preservation and state of reuse. On this basis, it examines them in comparative verification in terms of station, station building, and related facilities.
If we look at the state of the stations, they can be divided in two categories, stations still in service, though the former station buildings have been retired, and stations totally closed down. Moreover, the state of the former station buildings varies considerably. Some are preserved at the same location and others are preserved by transporting them whole to, or reassembling them at, a different location. Among the stations closed and no longer in service, moreover, there are station buildings preserved by transporting them whole to a different location. Their methods of reuse at present also vary but there are relatively many cases of them being converted to exhibiting facilities, restaurants and meeting halls.
What is important, when thinking about the preservation and reuse of former station buildings, is enabling people to imagine the station building when it was still in use. This is achieved by preserving not only the original building’s exterior appearance but also the waiting room decor and components of the ticket windows and wickets, and moreover the platform and other exterior facilities.
It is hoped this study will become a guidepost for considering the preservation and reuse of former station buildings no longer in service, hereafter.