Importance of Memory

When a town lost its physical existence whether by natural disasters or wars, its residents always faces a difficult decision to make: To which extent should they “recreate” the town’s original image?

Model of Kesen-numa by Tanahashi Lab, Kobe University, Photo by T. Ohta, (C) ArchiAid

But the thing is, do you really remember how your town was? Even if you lived in a place for many years, chances are you cannot describe the elements there which carry the important meanings to you.

In Tohoku, hundreds of  architecture students helped the disaster-hit residents just remember how their town were by building their models.

For two years after the great earthquake, 120 models for 33 regions were built. Students also put together  a series of exhibitions to present these models which often accompanied by workshops where the residents were asked about the place by looking at the models.

Osamu Tanahashi of Kobe University explained about this effort as follows:

On March 25 , 2011 , shortly after the disaster, while ArchiAid was still in the preliminary planning phase, a project called “The ‘Lost Homes’ Model Restoration Project” was born from a discussion among students about ways to use the network of architects and universities to help more people get involved with regional reconstruction efforts. This project attempted to reproduce an architectural model of the homes as they were before the disaster on a 1 /500 scale in one square meter increments. So far research labs at 22 universities have participated, and more than 500 architecture students have collaborated on the project. The plan to produce models of 33 areas of the 3 prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima has expanded into 120 models. Initially the models were used as part of an exhibition to allow people from outside the disaster area to get a better understanding of the damage caused by the earthquake.

References: For the original article and more images, please go to ArchiAid Annual Report 2012., page 22-25.