Build Back Better Tohoku

by Architecture for Humanity
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)
  • 1015

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



  • 10

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



  • 11
  • 20131

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 


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Organization Information

Architecture for Humanity

Location: San Francisco, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Architecture for Humanity
Project Leader:
Hiromi Tabei
San Francisco, CA United States

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