It has been almost two years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Memories of the horrific tsunami are gradually fading, and our lives are getting back to normal. However, people in stricken areas have not recovered from their traumas, and no signs are to be seen of the reconstruction of towns. As architects, and even more as human beings, what can we do in the face of this reality for those people?
The question “Architecture. Possible here?” has been posed precisely because we believe architecture can recover its essential character only under such conditions and in such places. A small house called “Home-for-All” may enable us to build a bond with those in areas hit by the disaster. We believe that through it, we may also be able to retrace architecture’s primeval process of development.
At the 2012 International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, we exhibited documentation of our roughly year-long discussion with local people concerning the “Home-for-All” constructed in Rikuzentakata. Architecture today has become an instrument of the economy. Together with people throughout the world involved in architecture, we wanted to go back to square one and reexamine the essential meaning of architecture. I believe we who have confronted a catastrophe have been given the responsibility to do so.
The Japan Pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale (Aug. 29 - Nov. 25, 2012). The honor was given surely in appreciation for the efforts of none other than the pavilion's commissioner Toyo Ito, who posed the question to the world of how architecture should be made in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The “Home-for-All”* in Rikuzentakata, Iwate was a collaborative project that three architects gathered by Ito - Kumiko Inui, Sou Fujimoto, and Akihisa Hirata - engaged in together over the course of a year alongside their planning of the Japan Pavilion exhibit. The “Home-for-All” was built during the Venice Biennale and has since begun to be actively used as a base for restoring the community among the local residents.
The Japan Pavilion presented a documentary record of the hundreds of study models, drawings, and video footage produced through the project’s production process, together with photographs taken by the photographer Naoya Hatakeyama in his hometown of Rikuzentakata before the disaster, immediately after the disaster, and recently. This homecoming exhibition presents a reformatted version of the Japan Pavilion exhibit with the addition of Hatakeyama’s photographs of the “Home-for-All” in Rikuzentakata taken since it was built.
It is our hope that the activities that the architects engaged in through the “Home-for-All” in Rikuzentakata in response to the primitive and fundamental question of “Architecture. Possible here?” will provide a point of departure for thinking about how architecture can exist today.
* The “Home-for-All” project was initiated by the KISYN-no-kai (Toyo Ito, Riken Yamamoto, Hiroshi Naito, Kengo Kuma, Kazuyo Sejima) with the hope of providing more humane and comfortable spaces for the people living in the dull and dry temporary housing units. A “Home-for-All” was built in Miyagino-ku (Miyagi), Heita (Iwate), Kamaishi shopping street (Iwate), and Higashimatsushima (Miyagi), before the “Home-for-All” featured in this exhibition was constructed in Rikuzentakata on November 18.
Supported by Tokyo Society of Architects and Building Engineers; Tokyo Association of Architectural Firms; The Japan Institute of Architects Kanto-Koshinetsu Chapter; and Kanto Chapter, Architectural Institute of Japan.
In cooperation with Jun Sato Structural Engineers; Daiko Electric Co., Ltd.; EASTWEST Inc.; and Shelter Co., Ltd.
With the special support of The Japan Foundation and Ishibashi Foundation.
Date: Jan. 18 (Fri.)–Mar. 23 (Sat.), 2013
Hours:11:00–18:00 (19:00 on Fri.)
Closed on Sun., Mon., national holidays (open Mar. 11)