9/28/2011

First step toward Northeastern Japan's Reconstruction: Design proposals by young Japanese architects

While I am in Japan, it is interesting to see how young Japanese architects perceive their cities, particularly since 3/11 which is now considered as a new word, according to the conference AID40 UIA Tokyo 2011 Congress I attended yesterday — and confirmed by Dwell magazine.
Here some projects that I found on Dwell Magazine website that illustrate a desire for a city "confortable " enough for its residents. Starting with this constat that 20th century Japanese cities were not built as a city to live in, young architects have this charge to design cities more adaptive to users' specific needs.
Here are some proposals that I selected among many others:
© Sako Associates. Originally appeared on Dwell Magazine
> Moving to higher ground makes sense from a safety perspective, but history, culture, and convenience tie communities to the sea.
Keiichiro Sako, who works from both Tokyo and Beijing, has a (slightly far-fetched) solution:
65-foot-high oval Sky Villages located near the shore.
SO(C)I(A)L KITCHEN © Yu Shimada/Tato Architects. Originally appeared on Dwell Magazine.
>Yu Shimada's SO'C)I(A)L KITCHEN provides a place for villagers
to get together and make miso, rice cakes, or other foods traditionally cooked with friends.
Forest Island © Jun Igarashi Architects. Originally appeared on Dwell Magazine.
> The tsunami has made the already serious problem of rural depopulation much, much worse. Jun Igarashi, who
lives in a small northern town himself, envisions town planning
patterns in which "inhabitants become ever happier and more comfortable as their numbers dwindle."
His Forest Island draws remaining homes together in high-density clusters, while the abandoned
periphery grows into a forested buffer between village and farmland.
Fishing Villages © Ryuichi Ashizawa Architects & Associates. Originally appeared on Dwell Magazine.
> Fishing villages nestled into tiny mountain-backed bays suffered some of the worst tsunami damage.
Here's Osaka architect Ryuichi Ashizawa's vision of a futuristic fishing town. Crescent-shaped
breakwaters serve triple duty as a tsunami barrier, a fishing pier, and an energy source, with built-in
turbines capturing wave power.

Seeing these design proposals, I have this impression that what is hidden behind these proposals is a certain pessimism as if architecture and urban planning have failed to protect people from external issues such as natural disasters — to this, you can include global warming, and but that does not concern Japan of course, war, etc. There is also a seek for rebuilding (if not redefining the concept of) a community and architecture and urban planning could act as tools to link people to their environment.
An evidence: the more than I can say is that beside the word of 3/11 as now a key word in the recent Japanese history (probably we should say this date must be considered as a turning point, or a new era, who knows, for Japan), it appears that "comfortable" is the most important word for Japanese today's architecture, if I refer to these proposals and yesterday's conference. Namely: designing a city which provides best living conditions and businesses may be the new challenge for Japanese cities… Probably a new paradigm…

More on Ideas for Japan's Reconstruction can be found: Here.


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