It Takes a Village – An update on Japan rebuilding efforts from Architecture for Humanity
A village priest blesses the future home of the Ooya Green Sports Park.
In the spirit of sharing more about how YOU make a transformative difference in the lives of young people in Japan, we wanted to give you an insight into how our partners at Architecture for Humanity put your support into action.
Together, Rebuilders raised over $500,000 to support the design, repair, and construction of youth facilities. As part of their larger mission to rebuild livelihoods in the Tohoku region of Japan, Architecture for Humanity carefully supports the best local partners’ efforts to build projects that serve the community. On the Open Architecture Network, you can see the many, many forms these projects take on.
Your support for Japan goes to projects that take the form of youth community centers and sports facilities.
Here’s How You Make a Difference:
Over the past six months, we’ve built a huge network of local partners. We’ve worked with young people and their advocates to find – and support – the most inspiring of the projects they’ve dreamed up. Below, you’ll see a few of these projects. There are many, many more we’re excited to share with you in the near future!
Current Students Rebuild Projects
Paper Crane Sculpture (折鶴オブジェ) – Design Development
Sendai, Japan. Students from the Tohoku University of Art & Design will create a large sculpture using paper cranes folded by Students Rebuild supporters. The sculpture will be unveiled early in January at the Sendai Train Station, where it will remain on display until finding a permanent home in a Tohoku public school. At the unveiling, over a thousand local youth will collaborate to create miniature paper crane sculptures to be displayed throughout the station. Partner: Tohoku University of Art & Design. Cost: $20,000.
Kashiwagi Daycare Center Addition (柏木保育園の増築) – Design Development
Sendai, Japan. The Kashiwagi Daycare Center suffered only minor damage from the 2011 earthquake. However, they have agreed to accept many students from surrounding daycare facilities that were damaged by the earthquake and/or tsunami. An urgent expansion is underway, which will allow the center to accommodate additional students next spring. Students Rebuild is sponsoring the construction of an outdoor learning and play space. Partner: Hiroto Suzuki Architects & Associates. Cost: $40,000.
Additional Japan Reconstruction Projects
While the projects below aren't directly supported by Students Rebuild, they play an important role in Architecture for Humanity's commitment to bring prosperity, opportunity, and community to young people in the Tohoku region. Take a look!
Ooya Green Sports Park (大谷グリーンスポーツパーク) – In Construction
Motoyoshi, Kesennuma, Miyagi, Japan. After the tsunami hit northern Japan, many sports fields and playgrounds at local schools were re-purposed as sites for temporary housing. These housing units may stay as long as three years, disallowing school kids access to sports facilities. At the Ooya Junior High School all of the sports grounds have been overtaken by temporary homes. The coach of the schools soccer team also happens to be an asparagus farmer and has generously donated his land to be a sports field for the school -- thus was born the Ooya Green Sports Park. Designed by Design Fellows Tomoro Aida and Aida Atelier, this simple design utilizes disused fishing equipment to build a protective sports compound and re-purposes debris for seating. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 5, 2011, and the park aims to open early in the new year. Partner: Nike. Cost: $78,000.
Shizugawa Judo Juku (志津川柔道塾) – Design Development
Shizugawa, Minami-sanriku-cho, Miyagi, Japan. Almost every junior high and senior high schools in Japan has its own Judo team, but Shizugawa is special for having a school in the town where elementary school, junior high, and high school students all train together. The original location of the school was completely washed away; today, nothing remains but the foundation. Most of the students’ and instructors’ homes did not fare much better. Currently, the students are practicing Judo in a partitioned part of a fishing warehouse belonging to one of the student’s family. Due to loss of life and displacement, the current size of the dojo is less than one-third the size of a normal one. We are going to winterize the space and add a door: the frigid Tohoku winter is coming just around the corner! Cost: $7,500.
Covered Alley (赤浜地区仮設住宅の雁木で育てる小さなコミュニティ) – Design Development
Otsuchi-cho, Kamihei-gun, Iwate, Japan. Akahama village lost 100 residents out of 900. Most of the survivors moved into temporary housing. Though people are expected to stay in the temporary housing for at least 2 the years, they are prepared to be there for much longer, as they learned from 1995 Kobe Earthquake, when slow reconstruction delayed victims’ return to their own homes or to newly developed public housing) Because of the unplanned placement of residents and the layout of units, a sense of community in the temporary camp is lacking. With the help from NPO Midori-no-ie School, the community proposed a covered alley between units built on a slope in order to connect upper units and lower units. Currently, residents have to walk on a steep slope, and they are worried snow and ice on the slope in the winter will make the terrain extremely dangerous to walk on. Partner: Residents of Akahama Temporary Housing Complex. Cost: $51,000.
Hikado Marketplace (ひかど市場) – Complete
Kesennuma-shi, Motoyoshi-cho, Miyagi, Japan. The Hikado Marketplace is a prominent local gathering space, and one of the first local buildings to be reconstructed following the tsunami. Architecture for Humanity lent design and construction support for a covered wooden deck made of salvaged timber. The project was completed in June 2011. The owner, carpenters and all parties involved making this project a reality had an opening celebration in July 2011. In the beginning of August, people from three neighboring communities utilized the space to hold a very successful summer festival. Today, people moved into nearby temporary housing come and enjoy a bowl of ramen noodles for lunch and a glass of cold beer after work. Cost: $9,000.
Why these projects?
For our Haiti Challenge, you worked together to raise money for school construction. This time, our focus on youth and sports facilities is a little different, and we want to share why:
In Japan, the political and economic landscape of reconstruction is complex. While the Japanese government welcomes the support and services of voluntary actors like Students Rebuild and Architecture for Humanity, the government often requires that benefactors finance projects in their entirety. Because schools in Japan are so large and expensive compared to Haiti, and because the Japanese government's requirements are very strict, this means that large development actors like UNICEF are best suited to support most school rebuilding efforts in Tohoku. Since Students Rebuild’s resources are limited and we want to help as many young people as possible, we’ve found an important opportunity to meet young people’s needs that may have othe rwise been overlooked. As we move forward, we’ll continue to update our Japan Project Progress Tracker to give you a better look at how YOU make a difference.
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