Zumtobel Group award nominees in focus: ArchiAid
Rebuilding communities in northern Japan
In May, shortlisted candidates were announced for the Urban Developments & Initiatives category of the Zumtobel Group Awards, which is sponsored by Thorn Lighting. This year, five hugely impressive projects are in the running including ArchiAid, a major initiative to rebuild urban environments and communities in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011.
The earthquake, and the tsunami that followed, affected a 500 km stretch of the northern Japanese coastline. Already facing issues such as an ailing local economy and an aging population, the built environment in many small cities and towns was all but destroyed.
While stop-gap measures were deployed to help local people, the task was not simply to return the area to how it was before the earthquake. Instead, a comprehensive reconstruction strategy was needed to attract industry, create employment, and kick-start the local economy.
Understanding the extent of the challenge, the city of Sendai, Japan, founded ArchiAid, a support network that brings together architects and local communities to stimulate reconstruction and economic regeneration.
Working with local communities, architects from ArchiAid have been working on reconstruction master plans that will provide much needed housing and public facilities and stimulate the tourism economy. By tapping into the communal memory of local communities, architects are also helping to protect the unique character of the region's architecture for generations to come.
As well as actively contributing to reconstruction and regeneration, ArchiAid is challenging traditional views of architects and how they engage with society. Rather than just city planners, architects in the network have become collaborators and trusted advisors.
The winning project will be announced at the Zumtobel Group Award press conference in London on September 22nd. For more information, visit www.zumtobel-group-award.com/en/957.asp.
Copyright: General Incorporated Association ArchiAid, Japan