Exactly two years have passed since the unforgettable catastrophe struck Tohoku and took away thousands of lives. We would like to send our condolences to all those affected, and those who are still waiting for their loved ones to be identified.
To commemorate this day, the Ishinomaki office held an event showcasing housing - a continuing issue for those who have lost their homes to the tsunami. We invited four architects from the "Wooden House Network (Mori-no-iezukuri-network") in Tohoku to present affordable ecological housing to override the preconception that architect-designed homes are more expensive and complicated to build than those produced by corporate housing manufacturers.
The architects who generously presented their work were:
Kinya Hayakawa, Hayakwa Architects + Partners
Yoichi Adachi, SPAZIO
Hirofumi Takada, Tsuki Sekkei
Fumihiko Sasaki, Sasaki Architect
The first to present was Hayakawa-san, the youngest member of the network. He also wears the hat of coordinator of a Minka (traditional Japanese housing) preservation group and DIY community services group.
His so-called 2.5 household residence (parents, son's family, and single daughter) proposed solutions to a peaceful relationship among the three households. Per his client's request, he separated entryways for the parents and son's family to respect each other's privacy. One of the guests also pointed out that as children grow up they occupy different rooms, and it would be convenient to have a flexible floor plan. The architects responded that they make a conscious effort to accommodate dynamic shifts in life, as it is a crucial design element.
Hayakawa-san answering questions
Following was Adachi-san, who is a master of interiors. Japanese or Western, his interiors were beautifully executed with attention to detail. The audience was particularly taken away by his bathroom designs. We also had an active discussion about storage, which troubles architects a great deal. Adachi-san incorporates plenty of storage and fixed-furniture in his design, which the crowd agreed as a wise choice.
Adachi-san pointing at his model
Takada-san had a very clear proposal for disaster-relief housing: 1. Have an Engawa patio to facilitate communication with the community; 2. Plant a tree; 3. Incorporate an iconic element (e.g. stained-glass window) for a conversation starter with neighbors. It was also interesting to learn that his client's son's Eczema cured after moving into his house - a good example that ecological design can make a difference in people's lives.
The Takadas explaining their design philosophy
Last but not least was Sasaki-san, designer of the Kitakami We Are One Market. Sasaki-san showed us footage of his office and house in Kitakami being washed away by the tsunami. It was quite shocking to see the entire structure disappear from our sight, but we were happy to hear that his new office and house also in Kitakami is almost finished. Sasaki-san has been building model homes of affordable one-story units. Learning from home manufacturers that have model homes of various designs and sizes, he believes that there is nothing more attractive and convincing than a one-to-one scale model home to sell his design to future home owners.
Sasaki-san going through drawings of his projects
Other issues raised were the lack of contractors and carpenters in Tohoku. The longer it takes to find one, the more expensive construction fees become, and clients shy away from building homes. It is a wide-spread issue that is faced not only by architects, but also by home manufacturers.
We look forward to updating you again in a couple weeks on our improved Housing Seminar Series!