ArchiAid: Rethinking-Reconstruction

ArchiAid: Rethinking-Reconstruction

The Great East Japan Earthquake

Location:Aedes am Pfefferberg, Studio, Christinenstr. 18-19, 10119 Berlin

Exhibition dates: October 25 – November 28, 2013

Opening: Friday, October 25, 2013, 6:30 PM

Opening hours: Tue-Fri 11 AM – 6:30 PM, Sat/Sun, 1 – 5 PM


In the two and a half years that have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, it is a relevant moment to look upon the progress of reconstruction efforts to date.

This exhibition will take a critical look at the reconstruction and recovery efforts by presenting the work of ArchiAid: a reconstruction support network of Japanese architects formed in response to the wide-ranging methods of official recovery strategies that largely neglect to consider the particular needs of individual communities and specifics of locality. Yet, locality and community are essential for the long-term stability of the population. Therefoer the ArchiAid initiative sees it as imperative to share the story of how various communities have dealt with the chaos, confusion and displacement following the devastation. This bottom-up network connecting the diverse reconstruction activities of these autonomous and decentralized architects, offers effective methods for rebuilding the region, as well as a new means for architects to engage with society. This exhibition introduces the diverse reconstruction activities and strategies of distinct architects working across the region who operate through the ArchiAid network.


ArchiAid is headed by a steering committee that includes; Hitoshi Abe, Taro Igarashi, Momoyo Kaijima, Nagisa Kidosaki, Kazuhiro Kojima, Kaoru Suehiro, Akira Suzuki, Masashi Sogabe, Masayoshi Takeuchi, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, Osamu Tsukihashi, Hirokazu Toki, Senhiko Nakata, Shoko Fukuya, Ryuji Fujimura, Yoshihiro Horii, Tohru Horiguchi, Masashige Motoe, RyoYamazaki and Tomohiko Yamanashi. As of March 2013, ArchiAid’s membership consists of 300 people committed to the long-term reconstruction and regeneration effort in disaster areas including many of Japan’s prominent educators and leading architects, such as Toyo Ito, Kazuyo Sejima, and Kengo Kuma. It also includes the engagement and involvements of over 15 universities.

Unlike a metropolitan disaster that strikes a population and economy center, the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami affected an extremely expansive 500 kilometers area in Northern Japan. Lining the coast, these small, community-based areas received additional catastrophe on top of already weakening economic strength from depopulation, and a growing number of elderly, thus exacerbating pre-existing problems and casting the future of this entire region in a precariously critical state.

In this kind of situation, the advancement of stopgap recovery measures applied to each area cannot bring about a return to pre-disaster conditions. Rather, it is necessary to focus on the rebirth of industry and reorganization of the region and offer a broad-based, comprehensive recovery strategy for the future. As an architectural approach, it is essential that efforts respond to the individual characteristics of the affected areas while being compatible with the varying problems in process of providing solutions.

Thus it is important that the continuous reconstruction activities of this truly huge number of architects operating at the grass roots level, engages with each of the diverse sites in the region in a personal and restrained way. Large-scale reconstruction that is systematized in a top-down frame tends to neglect the unique and special needs of each region. In response, the richly manifold and guerilla-like small reconstruction actions of Japan’s architects, who spread across the regions and operate autonomously, show the real possibilities of alternative reconstruction strategies.

This Exhibition design is inspired by the installation of the photographs at the Yuriage Elementary School gymnasium by many volunteers. In the disaster, family albums were scattered across the affected area. Damaged by seawater, these photographs were washed and dried on nets stretched across a room and displayed in a way so that the owners of the photographs could find them. This exhibition is homage to that installation that deeply comprehends the devastation of the disaster and the profound efforts of the Japanese people.

Speaking at the opening will be:

Dr. h.c. Kristin Feireiss, Aedes Berlin

Takayuki Miyashita, Minister, Embassy of Japan

Prof. Hitoshi Abe, University of California, Los Angeles

Visual materials of the exhibition are available from Beate Engelhorn:

The exhibition was made possibel by the support of:

Japan Federation of Construction Contractors, Tohoku Branch Office., UCLA Paul I. and Hisako Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, Japan Foundation, Tchoban Foundation, Museum für Architekturzeichnung, ANCB – The Metropolitan Laboratory

Many thanks to our Aedes cooperation partners for their generous support:

Zumtobel, carpet concept, Axor hansgrohe