Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit design services firm founded in 1999. We are building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design.
Oct 9, 2012

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: September 2012


October 2012 Tohoku Newsletter Banner

Following a hot and rainy summer, October brings a much awaited coolness to Japan.  Leaves have begun to change colors in the Tohoku region, bringing a renewed colorful landscape to the region.  Taiiku-no-hi (Sports and Health Day), promoting physical and mental health is in the second week of October, and many schools and communities hold their annual undou-kai (Field Day) during this season, creating opportunities for community cohesion and a healthy competition amongst members of the community.  We hope that you are able to take this opportunity to appreciate the change in season, and remain active in your daily life.


As the Tohoku Rebuilding program expands in scope and capacity, activity ramps up. We'll be capturing progress on a monthly basis via these reports, sent to everyone who has supported Japan's recovery since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. We hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.


The featured projects show a glimpse into the work we have been involved in over the past few months!  Please feel follow more frequent updates on our Tohoku website

Updates /

Kitakami foundation pourKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center (in construction)

Construction began in September and we are right on track with our schedule.  With the foundation taking form, the scale of the project is becoming clearer, and one can now picture the completed project with children running about.

  • The Ground Breaking ceremony was held on July 17, where Shinto priests from the local Tsuriishi shrine came to hold the ceremony praying for safe construction of the market and youth center.  The owner, land owner, architect, and AFH staff attended this ceremony.
  • The first two coats of the concrete pour are done, with the final finish coat expected later in construction.
  • The color scheme has been finalized with dark blue for the roof, and white for the walls
  • The ridgepole-raising ceremony (jyotoushiki) is scheduled to be held on October 15th at noon.  Locals will be invited to this ceremony.



  • 717(AFH)
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Banya building in constructionShizugawa Fishermen's Workplace "Banya" and Oyster Bar (in construction) 

We are in our final stage of construction, and we're only about 2 or 3 weeks away from completion to provide the proper workspace that the fishermen deserve.

  • roof work (waterproofing) has begun
  • some minor work (interior, exterior, foundation) coming soon



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Maeami hama modelMaeami-hama Community House (pre-construction)

We're partnering with KMDW (Kobayashi Maki Design Workshop) to construct a community house for the people of Maeami-hama.  With their experience in constructing a similar community building in Miyagi using tsunami washed plywood sheets as structural framing, the Maeami-hama Community House will have an innovative structure, consisting of slits in horizontal sheets of plywood fit into vertical ones.

  • We are in the process of obtaining a building permit, and are expecting to recieve it by November at the latest
  • project completion expected by January 2013



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Oshika HouseOshika House (completed)

Since this project - a food shop and community space, is in a restricted area where most buildings are temporary, this buidling was designed differently with a more permanent and comforting aesthetic.  The use of Japanese cedar for the walls, and the traditional gable roof construction bring a sense of comfort to visitors, with the low-pitched roof capable of withstanding strong sea winds for years to come.  While giving a sense of permanency, the building was designed and constructed in such a way that it can be easily relocated if government determines to ban permanent construction in this area in the future.

This winning entry from our Build Back Better Tohoku competition was completed in mid-July.




Akahama covered alleyCovered Alley (completed)

Many in the community of Akahama village, are currently in temporary housing, where placement is random and sense of community is dissipated.  With the help from NPO Midori-no-ie School, we proposed a covered alley between units, to connect the upper and lower units of a temporary housing complex.  The stairs and roof were designed to reflect traditional architecture, utilized local materials, and encouraged residents to lend their hand for construction to cultivate a sense of community.  

This project was completed in mid-July.  Residents can now finally safely navigate through the complex, inviting opportunities for impromptu social gatherings at covered landings.




News /

Events /

Seminar by MAKOTO

Business development seminars in Ishinomaki.  Details coming later this month on our website.  Stay tuned.



Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign

During November 1-15 EDT, all donations to projects to our Tohoku Recovery activities through Global Giving will be matched 100%.  Double your impact by participating in this campaign!  Details to come soon.


 112131  11161359Global GivingGlobal Giving100

Tohoku Project Status Report /

In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" /  - CA 70%
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center /  - CA 20%
Maeami-hama Community House / - Pre-Construction

Akahama Covered Alley /  - Completed, Jul 2012
Oshika House - Women's Collaborative /  - Completed, Jul 2012
Paper Crane Sculpture /  - Completed, Jan 2012
Shizugawa Judo Juku /  - Completed, Dec 2011
Ohya Green Sports Park /  - Completed, Dec 2011
Hikado Marketplace /  - Completed, Jul 2011

CA Construction Administration /  ; CD Construction Documents /  ; DD Design Development /  ; SD Schematic Design /  ; PD Pre-Design /  - About the Phases 

Sep 4, 2012

Vision Booklet for Golden Circle Senior Center

On February 29th, 2012, an early morning tornado killed seven residents of Harrisburg, Illinois, and destroyed 143 homes and several businesses. Preliminarily listed by the National Weather Service as an FE4, the tornado had wind speeds topping at 180 mph. The Golden Circle Senior Wellness Center was completely destroyed in the storm. Along with the loss of records, photos of local veterans, and pool tables, the senior food program, serving 80 lunches from the Center's dining room and preparing an additional 120 lunches for the local Meals on Wheels program, was crippled. During the past several months, Golden Circle has temporarily moved their operations to the Dorrisville Baptist Church while they arrange funding to rebuild.

On August 11, 2012, volunteers from Architecture for Humanity Chicago met with George Cain, the architect of record for the Golden Circle Senior Center reconstruction, and representatives from the Center. The purpose of the charrette and Architecture for Humanity Chicago's involvement was to document the vision for the new Golden Circle Senior Wellness Center through renderings and diagrams.

The final project deliverable, a visioning booklet, contains the results of that meeting. This booklet will also be handed over to George Cain, AIA, of Crawford, Murphy, and Tilly, the architect of record, to be used as a reference of the charrette and discussions with Golden Circle during his creation of construction documents. Download the Visioning Booklet (PDF, 2.9Mb)

Left: April 2012 assessment of Harrisburg damage, image by Bill Gnech; Right: August 11 Visioning Charrette with Golden Circle

Floor plan and program

Left: Perspective alternative; Right: Entrance alternative and donor wall

Sep 4, 2012

Haiti Progress, August 2012: Healing & Education


Healing and Education: through the arts

Healing and Education through the Arts. Architecture for Humanity has implemented a civic art program featuring the work of local Haitian artisans. The earthquake had as devastating an impact on the culture of Haiti as it did on its buildings, streets and lives. There is now the risk that as Haiti rebuilds that much of her culture will be forgotten as art and artists are foregone in favor of more utilitarian responses. We believe that Haiti needs the restorative effects that a civic arts program could bring. See below


Project Status Report

Haiti School Initiative
École Baptiste Bon Berger, Pele - Ph.1 CA 85%
École Elie Dubois - Ph.1 CA 95% - Ph.2 CD 80% Ph.3 10%
College Coeur Immacule de Marie (CIM) - SD 35%
École Argentine - SD 15%
Haiti Partners Children's Academy (BAR Architects) - Ph.1 CA 10%

Haiti Design Consultancy
Santo Community Development Plan - Ph.4 CD 70%
Mme Joa Clinic - CA 90%
Villa Rosa and Saint Marie Community Action Plan  Ph.3 & Ph.4 90% Community Infrastructure CA 90%

CA Construction Administration; CD Construction Documents; DD Design Development; SD Schematic Design; PD Pre-Design -About the Phases


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