The town of Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, suffered extreme damage from the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, so much so that there wasn’t even enough flat land to build enough temporary housing for all the area’s survivors in the usual fashion.
The town allocated the space of a baseball diamond, which is not very much, and the office of architect Shigeru Ban maxed it out by designing a two and three story temporary housing complex out of shipping containers to house 189 families. Multi-story temporary housing did not previously exist in Japan, so it was a challenge to get everyone on board.
A shortage of skilled construction workers in the area also posed problems, as so much building was going on, and to minimize this the containers, built in China, arrived at the site preassembled with windows. For the same reason, storage units to furnish the spaces were designed to be simply stacked on top of each other.
The attention to preserving and reforming social networks for the survivors is particularly striking:
In an ideal situation, people who were neighbors before the disaster would still live close to one another after moving to temporary housing. In reality, things don’t usually work out that way. We wanted to design the temporary housing in a way that would allow residents to easily form a new community. We included a meeting area, a workshop for children to read or study in, and a market where residents could do some basic shopping. – project manager Yasunori Hirano
The containers were stacked two and three stories high in a checkerboard style, leaving spaces between the containers, forming a fabric of indoor and outdoor rooms, greatly increasing the living space.
Please do check out more photos and read the full interview with Yasunori Hirano, the project manager, describing the project challenges and solutions on the World Architects website.
The children’s workshop was built with donations from painter Hiroshi Senju. The photos of the Field Trip Project on this page show the art displayed in the market funded by the musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Please see lots more photos from this part of the travelling exhibition on the official Field Trip Project website.