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    Lessons from Minamisanriku: Koala Library

    What are the most important civic buildings? The first civic building that was rebuilt in Minamisanriku after the tsunami was the Koala Library.  The impetus to rebuild came when, following the tsunami, local children were seen reading under streetlghts outside the temporary relief shelters. It became clear that for these children, reading offered both an […]

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  • A local fisherman in Minamisanriku © David Humphries

    Lessons from Minamisanriku: The sea as a resource

    Can preventative infrastructure compromise the quality and livelihood of a place? Minamisanriku has an economy that is based primarily on fishing and aquaculture.  While we were there, we visited the fishing and aquaculture cooperative of Kompiramaru, on Banana Bay. Like so much of Minamisanriku, it was battered by the tsunami and the infrastructure of the […]

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  • Isatomae-Fuko Shopping Area, a temporary shopping street created by local people and businesses

    Lessons from Minamisanriku: Houses or shops?

    How can new housing be built in a way that ensures it is supported by local infrastructure? While in Minamisanriku, we were shown a video of the tsunami hitting the area of Utatsu, taken by a local resident on his phone. It is not easy to watch. Most striking are both the noise and the […]

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  • Visiting the shell of the municipal building where evacuation broadcasts were made from

    Lessons from Minamisanriku: What does place mean to us?

    Negotiating different personal and community associations with a building or place Minamisanriku is in many ways an idyllic setting, a place of extraordinary beauty on the northeast cost of Japan in the Sendai province. It sits on the Shizugawa Bay and is made up of four districts, Shizugawa, Togura, Utatsu and Ikiya. Approximately 1,000 of […]

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  • Preparing the land for redevelopment in Minamisanriku

    Lessons from Minamisanriku: Introduction

    When I asked a survivor of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Minamisanriku, Japan in June 2011 what we could do to help, his reply was “Come here, shed a tear with us and tell our story.” The recent earthquake in Nepal has once again shown our vulnerability to natural disasters and the devastating effects […]

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    Do we accept the status quo in place? A round-up of our London debate

    “We are both too ambitious and not ambitious enough” opened our first speaker, Alastair Donald on Wednesday at our fourth and final debate in this year’s Series To a More Ambitious Place. The British Council Director for the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale told us firmly that design in placemaking was suffering from […]

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    To a More Ambitious Place: Do we accept the status quo in place? Think piece #3

    By Alexei Schwab The pressure is on for London to build more homes, and we are seeing a raft of new policies to stimulate delivery of housing in the Capital. In previous periods of large-scale building, place making often took a back seat: the homes might have been well-designed, but the areas suffered from a […]

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  • Community walkabout

    To a More Ambitious Place: Do we accept the status quo in place? Think piece #2

    By Sir Tom Shebbeare An amateur planner: asset or a hazard? Challenging the status quo by using the tool of neighbourhood planning could involve making amateur planners of us all. But are we an asset or a hazard? I’m 63 and until very recently had never been involved with planning – although the concept of […]

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    To a More Ambitious Place: Do we accept the status quo in place? Think piece #1

    By Samar Héchaimé The question put forth is ‘Do we accept the status quo in place?’ My question is what status quo do we refer to? The status quo that place is intrinsic, characteristic and essentially emerges from our own humanity? Or the status quo that has become so prevalent due to our misunderstanding of […]

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  • Design training

    Urban governance: do current models support our ambitions for great places?

    This blog post was first published on the Future of Cities blog run by Foresight Projects, part of the Government Office for Science The Future of Cities paper, Comparative urban governance, begins with a clear and concise definition: Urban governance refers to the process through which democratically elected local governments and the range of stakeholders […]

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