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    Lessons from Minamisanriku: Iryado

    Places that support, teach and empower Following the tsunami, there was an outpouring of support with volunteers arriving from other regions of Japan and from abroad to help with the clean-up and rebuilding of Minamisanriku. In a community which previously boasted a resort hotel that could accommodate 1300 people, and was a popular tourist destination, […]

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    Lessons from Minamisanriku: Octopus-Kun – a place to craft

    The power of activity and enterprise Following the tsunami, one of the biggest challenges for local people, particularly those whose workplace had been destroyed, was that they had lost their daily routine based on having somewhere to go and something to do. Shops and businesses were simply swept away and while there was no end […]

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  • King's Cross Skip Garden in London - a moveable community garden 


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Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, 'Bridging the Gap between Academic Theory and Community Relevance: Fresh Insights from American Pragmatism' (AH/K006185/1) was a collaborative research project involving Keele University, Brunel University, the Open University, University of Edinburgh and Seinan Gakuin University (Japan), and community partners New Vic Borderlines and The Glass-House Community Led Design.

    Lessons from Minamisanriku: Community Gardening

    Displacement and personal investment in temporary spaces One of the initiatives led by the local government following the displacement and rehousing of thousands of families was the creation of community gardens linked to temporary housing sites. During our visit to Minamisanriku, we were told about a few different gardens, which had met with different levels […]

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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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