On February 24, 2013, the residents of the fishing village of Maeami-hama, on a secluded inlet on the Pacific coast of Tohoku, gathered to celebrate the opening of its new community house.
The community invited partners KMDW architects (Tokyo) and Architecture for Humanity Japan to join in a feast the fishermen caught that very morning - abalone, octopus, seaweed, rice pastries and refreshments.
The merriment lasted well into the afternoon, accompanied by stories and jokes, tours and inspections of the structure, and a guest appearance from Ultraman. The Maeami community is very happy about this new structure, which replaces a concrete community house that was condemned and demolished after the 2011 tsunami.
The construction system, developed by KMDW and Keio University, utilizes a kit of plywood parts as structural elements. The house shows beautiful details, joinery and cladding, rounding out a useful and warm community space, and tectonic architectural marvel.
House in the morning
The storage side
Party's upstairs. Through the doorway to the community meeting space
KMDW's Kobayashi-sensei explains the structural system–how plywood can hold a building up.
KMDW, Architecture for Humanity, and the Maeami fishermen share a table
Abalone + inarizushi + octopus + seaweed salad = yum
Suzuki-san reflects on 3/11. He's kept these photos of the tsunami in his car. "I kept turning to take pictures while running up the hill."
Laughs and a setting sun
Within hours of opening, the house gets its first architectural tourists