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.
Nov 7, 2012

Welcoming our newly established Manila Chapter

We are excited to announce our newly established Manila chapter launching on November 12!

The chapter was established in response to our Philippines Floods Response in August, following Tropical Storm Haikui. This tropical storm brought two days of heavy rains, causing massive flooding and landslides throughout the capital city of Manila. Manila recorded nearly 30 inches of rain between August 7-8, and over 80% of the city was inundated. Over 800,000 people were evacuated from their homes and 250,000 people were moved into emergency shelters.

Since this area is very prone to disasters, the chapter will be focusing on disaster resiliency and reconstruction projects, providing communities with the skills and training needed to mitigate the impact of future flooding. Due to its location along the typhoon belt, the Philippines experience have about eight or nine torrential rains and thunderstorms making landfall each year. Most recently, Hurricane Son-Tinh hit on October 26, killing 27, injuring 19, and leaving 9 missing (as of October 31). It is estimated that 2 million people live in informal settlements in high risk areas along river beds that are prone to flooding. Basic investments in the built environment could prevent this disaster from occurring again.

This chapter was established by Illac Diaz, who worked with us previously on the Bottle School project after Typhoon Ketsana in 2009. He is a proud winner of the 2012 Curry Stone Design Prize - an annual prize awarded to designs that improve people's lives and the state of the world, for his Liter of Light project, which brings eco-friendly bottle light to communities living without electricity. We're happy to have him on board.

With two potential projects already on their way, we're excited to see their work!

There's still much work to be done in this region. Please support the Manila chapter by directing donations here.

Oct 31, 2012

Tohoku Reconstruction Update: October 2012

November 2012 Tohoku Newsletter Banner


Temperatures have dropped, the days are shortening, and Fall foliage is currently at its best in the Tohoku region, fully signifying Autumn.  November begins with Culture day (bunka no hi) on the 3rd, promoting culture, the arts, and academic endeavor.  Many culture related events occur this month, so take this opportunity to participate!  Later in the month is Labor Thanksgiving Day (kinro kansha no hi) on the 23rd, commemorating labor and production and giving thanks to one another.  We would like to take this opportunity to give a special thanks to everyone who has supported us in our efforts!

With November just around the corner, our activities are ramping up!  We have had some exciting news in the past month, and special events coming up, including Global Giving's Japan matching campaign beginning November 1st.  Please read below for details! 

As always, we hope you enjoy seeing where your support has taken this program, and our doors are always open for feedback.

We hope you're enjoying season and are happily welcoming the upcoming winter.




Double your impact in supporting our efforts in Tohoku!  

Global Giving is running a special matching campaign from November 1 - 15, for projects working on Tohoku recovery and relief efforts.  During this period, Global Giving will match 100% of all donations made through their site, up to $1,000 per donor per project until funds run out.  

Please take this opportunity to support us in helping the Tohoku region.  Any amount can go a long way!

There is only a limited amount in matching funds available, so please consider supporting us as soon as it begins at 12:01 EDT on November 1, 2012 (13:01 JST on November 1st) on our Tohoku fundraising page.  Please also tell your friends, family, and colleagues about this special opportunity - share the link on your blogs or social networks, use the tell-a-friend feature on the project page to email your network, or just bring us up in conversation!  

We greatly appreciate every donation made, as it helps ensure that we continue helping the Tohoku region.


Office Opening

We are happy to announce that we will be opening our Ishinomaki office in just a few weeks!  This is our first regional office in Japan, and will act as a business support center for affected small and medium enterprises to aid in the development of a new and sustainable economic system in the Tohoku region.


First Job Creation

Yukino HaranoWe recently had the opportunity to provide advice  and presentation training to Harako Yukino in her application for a subsidy from the Cabinet office.  We are very happy to hear that she was able to pass the screening and receieve a subsidy to start up her business in Ishinomaki - something she could not have done without the money.

She will start an acupuncture clinic (home visit service) geared towards: elderly who live in temporary housing who would otherwise have difficulty receiving these services, and young mothers who are under much stress, raising children in their community without relatives to rely on.  She will also provide oil massage seminars for mothers to eventually hire as an assistant or independent therapist, thus creating new job opportunities for locals.

We're looking forward to seeing her success!




looking above to catch rice cakes being thrownKitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center (in construction)

The ridgepole-raising ceremony (jyotoushiki) was held on October 15th.  This ceremony is held across Japan to pray for the continued safety of the workers and project construction.  Following the ceremony, carpenters climb up scaffolding with boxes full of red and white colored (colors used at celebratory events) sweet rice cakes and coins wrapped in paper and thrown out to the community.  Many neighbors came out to celebrate and pray for this unique event.  Check out a video of this special event made by our Japan staff here!


Banya building near completionShizugawa Fishermen's Workplace "Banya" and Oyster Bar (in construction) 

On October 26, our design fellow Toru met with Mr. Sato (our client) at the site to check the state of construction.  Construction of the roof has been completed, and sashes installed.  With only a few minor fixes to make, the project is very near completion!


Maeami reviewing drawings on siteMaeami-hama Community House (in construction)

On a breezy and cold Sunday morning, staff from KMDW (architect of record), local fishermen, and AFH design fellows, joined contractors in preparing for the concrete pour of the foundation.  Holes were drilled into the perimiter of the existing foundation,  portions of the site were excavated, and rebars set in place.  Unfortunately, concrete is still difficult to obtain in this region (especially on schedule) with the many rebuilding projects occuring in this area.  With only the concrete pour remaining, construction of the foundation will be complete, once the concrete is delivered.




Tohoku Recovery Matching Campaign

During November 1 00:01 EDT - November 15 23:59 EDT, all donations to our Tohoku project through Global Giving will be matched 100%.  Double your impact by participating in this campaign!


Seminar by MAKOTO

Business development seminars in Ishinomaki.  

Dates:  November 23, December 7, December 14, December 21, January 11, and January 25 from 18:00~19:30

Place:  AFH Ishinomaki Office

For more information and to register, email us with your name, address, phone, and email.




In Progress
Shizugawa Fishermen's Workspace "Banya" - CA 95%
Kitakami "We Are One" Market and Youth Center  - CA 50%
Maeami-hama Community House - CA 05%

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


Oct 30, 2012

In "Topping Out" Kitakami Market, rains are sweet

October 15, the Kitakami "We Are One" market and youth center celebrated a milestone in construction: the roof laying or "topping out" ceremony. Common to construciton projects, the ceremony brings with it some rituals that have over time become staples amonst the community, and dozens gather to share with the builders and architects a pleasant afternoon. See photos and video brought to us by the Architecture for Humanity Japan team:

Folks gathering from as far as the Nikkori Sun Park temporary housing units
Folks gathering from as far as the Nikkori Sun Park temporary housing units

...To what will be the "Topping Out" Roof Framing completion ceremony at the Market

Among the heavy timbers and framed roofs, a shrine is built to honor the Mountain goddess
Among the heavy timbers and framed roofs, a shrine is built to honor the Mountain goddess

Construction crew gathers on site
Builders, architect and design fellows gather at the temporary shrine

Shrine detail
The shrine in detail. Food and sake offerings

Meanwhile, outside...
Meanwhile, another group gathers outside...

Honoring the mountain goddess: two bow, two clap, one bow
Aki takes his turn to honor the mountain goddess

A song is sung by the priest
Individual honors followed by song 

Setting up for the last part of the ceremony
Setting up for the last part of the ceremony

People seem to know what's coming
People seem to know what's coming

GO!! The sweet buns and yen are showered down to the community

As multigenerational as it gets...
A ceremony as multigenerational as it gets

Make room for the gents
Make way for the gents...

Some bits are reminiscent of Halloween. May be just human nature to count your "stash"
Some bits are reminiscent of Halloween here in North America. The counting of one's stash may be universal

Udon noodles served after. Delish.
Afterwords, udon noodles are served from an open tent #delish

The Team's 7-minute video of the day provides a great sense of the people living in Kitakami:

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