Two weeks after the worst earthquake in Japan’s history the discussions surround relieve and rebuilding bring multiple perspectives about what nations and NGOs are doing to help the country of Japan. With this disaster effecting millions of people it is rather difficult to put these events into a human scale. The two stories below attempt to do just that as two architects discuss their perspective on these events.
Architect Shigeru Ban, in a New York Times interview, discusses his design for simple partitions made out of paper for quake victims privacy as they live in shelters. Ban has worked in many place after disasters and in this piece he also discusses his ideas for making buildings and cities strong enough to resist a tsunami. He says:
There has to be a different kind of urban planning, such as high, heavy concrete buildings near the coast to protect the houses behind them. People could be evacuated to the rooftops of those buildings. It’s physically possible. But can you imagine how ugly this great wall along the coast would look? Architects and urban planners will have to design an anti-tsunami building that looks nice in order to create a new kind of pretty townscape.
In Salvator-John A. Liotta’s Letter from Tokyo: A Diary Account of the Earthquake, he discusses his life in Tokyo in the days following the quake. As an Italian architect working and researching for his PhD in Tokyo, he has the unique perspective of a western architect that has been in Tokyo for six year. Here are few excerpts:
- March 11: … All of a sudden our operating system disappears and we end up in an ultra- extended space without the means to live in an “advanced” way. What can be done?
- March 12: We are all asked to stay indoors as much as possible, not to use electricity. In supermarkets, there are long lines at the checkout counters; you have to wait a half an hour to pay, but it is all done with calm.
- March 13: Images of disaster, tsunamis, earthquakes are now everywhere. For the newspapers, Japan has already been in a state of nuclear cataclysm for three days.
As the world watches Japan there is certainly much to be done at the national level to aid the recovery however, personal perspectives such as these are extremely valuable as architects and planners design solutions for recovery.