Rebuilding after Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami

As Japanese authorities are still trying to avoid nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture while also dealing with at least 350,000 homeless citizens, it is difficult to think about plans to rebuild Japan.  However groups like Architecture for Humanity already are thinking about rebuilding efforts. On Saturday Architecture for Humanity announced that it will help in the rebuilding effort in Japan through small scale projects.  Their Executive Director Cameron Sinclair explains the program:

On a grassroots level, the greatest impact we can make is to focus on specific small scale building projects for local community organizations. These ‘urban acupuncture’ projects create a ripple effect of social cohesion and change.

Kelsey Keith of Architizer, also provided a comprehensive post Friday exploring design and infrastructure solutions that will need to be considered in Japan’s earthquake recovery plans. She writes about how Japan will have to consider housing, infrastructure, energy and economic recovery in the months and years to come.

Before rebuilding efforts can take place the success of Japan’s strict building codes should also be examined.  The New York Times discusses the history of these building codes and explains why the flexible skyscrapers (seen via YouTube below) sway instead of crumble as one would expect with an earthquake of this magnitude:

After the Kobe earthquake in 1995, which killed about 6,000 people and injured 26,000, Japan also put enormous resources into new research on protecting structures, as well as retrofitting the country’s older and more vulnerable structures. Japan has spent billions of dollars developing the most advanced technology against earthquakes and tsunamis.

A BBC report further explores whether or not making a country, or city for that matter, tsunami proof is possible.  Their answers:

  • Totally preventing tsunami-damage is impossible
  • But an early warning system can allow evacuations and other precautions
  • Buildings can be constructed to survive the wave with repairable damage

In the end we have to admit that it will be impossible to rebuild Japan’s cities and villages as tsunami and earthquake proof.  However the building technology that has allowed for flexible buildings, massive public education system about natural disasters, and communication infrastructure that has allowed for early warning systems are all elements already in use in Japan that should be re-instituted in the rebuilt areas.

– Melissa



  1. Pingback: Rebuilding after Japan’s Earthquake and Tsunami (via Encountering Urbanization) | Urban Choreography

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