Sendai Update: Moving from Relief to Recovery

It has been more than two weeks since the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Northern Japan. A lot of people have asked us what are we doing, what structures are we building and do we have construction going on right now. There are four phases of rebuilding a community; Relief, Recovery, Reconstruction and Economic Development. Our work begins in recovery and ends years later as economic development is underway.

While the world still focuses on the nuclear issue, we cannot forget the loss of 10,000+ lives and a further 17,000 that are still listed as missing. In Sendai and in the surrounding community hundreds of buildings have disappeared and thousands damaged. Architecture for Humanity and our teams in Japan have been working on our long term plan for rebuilding in these affected communities. It is our role to partner with local networks and support their initiatives as well as collaborate on new ones.

Kana Kondo of our Kyoto Chapter is in Sendai this week as part of a multi-NGO (NPO) group doing door to door assessments. She was also been a lead in the collaborative #honyaquake initiative, to get up to date information to foreign nationals in Japan over the past two weeks.

We are also extremely grateful to over 100 Japanese based architects and engineers who have offered their services. We are taking a longer more sustainable approach to rebuilding and will connect with many of you soon. On the ground thoughts are not about rebuilding right now, it is about survival. We will respect the communities wishes and respond to their needs when the time comes.

Program Advisory Board and Sendai Office

To help us focusing on developing our rebuilding strategy and implementation, we have assembled a Program Advisory Board. Currently this board includes;

Hitoshi Abe, Atelier Hitoshi Abe, Sendai and Los Angeles
Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, KDa, Tokyo
Cameron Sinclair, Architecture for Humanity, San Francisco
Yutaka Takiura AIA, T-Design Architecture, New York [interior architecture]
Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, Atelier Bow Wow, Tokyo
Ryo Yamazaki, studio-L, Osaka [landscape architecture and Osaka Chapter]

Special recognition should also we given to our Board Member, Toshiko Mori, who has provided careful oversight of our current strategy.

As of today, March 28th, we will have a team presence in Sendai. We are honored to welcome Tohru Horiguchi as our design fellow & program representative. He is an Assistant Professor at Tohoku University in Sendai and will be help us liaise with existing design groups and community organizations. Atelier Hitoshi Abe has kindly offered us space and this will serve as our local base for the next 6 to 9 months. We will also have a design fellow in Tokyo within the offices of Klein Dytham Architects (KDa).

As we refine our plans we are making sure we dovetail with the Japanese national government initiatives, while responding to the needs of local government and community groups in Sendai.

10,000+ Children Fold For Japan

The idea by Students Rebuild and Do Something to engage students in making paper cranes for Japan has gone global, with more than a dozen countries involved including schools from Japan.

The students rebuild team has received over 530 requests for mail labels (Have your kids make over 50, they will send you one too). Most requests are from students galvanizing clubs or teachers getting their whole school involved. Only a week since launching the team has over 2,000 cranes and are expecting the bulk of them over the next few weeks.

Next week will see a special folding sessions in Port au Prince, Haiti – as part of a ground breaking ceremony for a new school we are building.

All cranes collected will be turned into a sculptural piece that will be presented to the school that we will be repairing with funds raised from the project.

We have been designated recipients of a number of fund raising campaigns. Let us know if you are hosting one, would like to be involved or have ideas.

CafeLife Virtual Cranes for Japan | March 25th – completed | Virtual
Nike | March 28th – May 28th | Global
Heatbeats for Japan | April 2nd | Los Angeles
Live4Sendai Concert (w/ Imogen Heap and others) | April 5th or 6th | London
molo heartfelt lantern for Japan | April 12th – 17th | Milan
Pecha Kucha Day for Japan | April 16th | Tokyo

Thank You

Organizations such as Nike, Global Giving, Paypal, Autodesk, Heath Ceramics, molo and the Bezos Family Foundation have already made great commitments to our Sendai Reconstruction program. We also have been the welcome recipients of an outpouring of hundreds of donations from individual donors throughout the past two weeks.

We are extremely grateful to all of those who have helped support the reconstruction efforts in Sendai – we wouldn’t be able to be refining and scaling our impact without your goodwill. We would also like to recognize a number of colleagues in Japan and the region who have helped us on our program and to coordinate our efforts. Special thanks to Kumi Fujisawa, Kohei Nishiyama, James Kondo and Joichi Ito


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