• 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Towards a more open dialogue around place

    Recently many place organisations and institutions have met to discuss the desire for collective action and stewardship on place, prompted by The Farrell Review of Architecture + The Built Environment (1). Emerging from this is the idea of a new Place Alliance. My vision for a Place Alliance is an open network of people and […]

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  • How can we learn something from every experience with place?

    The irony of it. The day after returning from our debate in Edinburgh exploring the relationship between place and health and wellbeing, I found myself with a cast on my foot, having to navigate London on crutches. While tackling patched up pavements, I was reminded of one of the key themes from our conversation in […]

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