26 February - 18 March 2014

Open weekdays 09:30-17:30
Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy

The Embassy of Japan
101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT

The Embassy of Japan hosts the Japan Foundation touring exhibition, How Did Architects Respond Immediately after 3/11?, which examines how architects searched for a path to recovery and engaged in the many various reconstruction projects in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

Temporary Housing Facility with Tower and Murals
(c)Taro Igarashi Laboratory, Tohoku University

Architects have played an important role in the recovery of the Tohoku region, many coming together to share ideas and talk about how best to proceed. Advances in quake-resistant construction in recent years significantly reduced the damage caused by the huge earthquake. But it was the tsunami covering a 500-km coastline which devastated so many communities.

The immense task of reconstruction ahead prompted many architects, both in Japan and abroad, to spring into action. Their efforts were required to respond to the various needs of the survivors from the time immediately after the disaster onwards.

The exhibition looks at phases of recovery starting with emergency responses which were to provide shelter for those who had lost their homes. Although little could be done in concrete terms by architects at this stage as speed was of the essence, this is when architects got together to think for the future and to try and improve the conditions for those in communal evacuation shelters.

The next phase was to create a large quantity of temporary homes and address the social issues that arose for uprooted and relocated communities. Due to the vast scale of the disaster, demands on existing prefabricated structures were high and the advent of wooden temporary housing was notable.

The next part of the exhibition examines the reconstruction phase. This has given architects the opportunity to examine carefully the specific needs of each affected community often proffering revolutionary ideas for urban planning.

News of the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear power plant accident spread almost instantly around the world. This immediately inspired tremendous concern from people all over the globe and not least architects who were keen to contribute to the restoration efforts in Japan. The last section of the exhibition looks at a number of the proposals from architectural practices outside Japan.

The situation in the Tohoku region means that many who lost their homes and livelihoods are still in temporary housing and complete recovery is some way off. This exhibition shows what remarkable efforts have already been made and suggests what could be realised in the future by all those involved in the reconstruction process.