Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE credits
The 11th of march 2011, at 14.16 the north east of Japan was hit by a 9.0-magni- tude earthquake, tsunami and by a nuclear accident at the power plant, Fukush- ima Daiichi due to the excessive water masses on land caused by the tsunami. The disaster left a large amount of land in a apocalyptic state – ruins, chaos, a population in grief and large areas flooded.
Today, two years after the catastrophe, most of the debris have been cleaned up, leaving an empty landscape, and a society in a deep financial crises due to the cost of handling the debris, reconstruction of infrastructure and buildings and loss of efficiency for the industries. Most of the cities hit, was located in the rural parts of the japanese society, already experiencing a decrease in popula- tion and suffering from a declining fish industry. The society now have to face unemployment, an old generation, a sunken ground level (due to the earthquake the land have changed), reconstruction and a large amount of the population living in temporary housing. The areas that used to be residential areas now have become ‘danger zones’ meaning that they can not any longer be used for residential housing, but instead will be made mainly into park areas and some industry. The remaining population in these areas have their life written into these places and remaining foundations, some wish to rebuild where they used to live while others are afraid of new disasters so they choose a site on higher ground. Most of the affected habitants is waiting for the city government to make decisions, where they are going to live and which house, (if any), that will be
built to them, since they are not in a financially situation where they can rebuilt themselves. The ruins are therefor loaded with different memories and stories, but often this is forgotten in order to create a ‘safe’ and functional future. This thesis ask the question if we should just move on, forgetting the past, and build new or if there is a way where we can be futuristic without forgetting the quali- ties from the past? This work will be focused on the city of Ishinomaki as case study of a topia in an apocalyptic state and on how fragments of a space can be reconstructed through the notion of memory. Walking around in the devastated areas among the ruins, in which nature have started to take over the concrete, one notice a red spray-painted number on the visible remains of the disaster. Spraycanned with a number, checked by scientist, marked after the number
that people stood in line at the cityhall in order to turn their house in for
demolition, in other cases the people do not longer exist and the city govern- ment have taken over the place. The ruins is visible remains of the past, both as in what life was before and what happened. They becomes a symbolic display of different layers of time. The remains contain a symbolic presence of a paused time, temporality and memory. In the ‘ruins’ of these houses lays the history and stories of the life that was. Fragments of beings. The non-beings showing the beings. Personal belongings and traces of the life that was, remains in the ruins. It offer glimpses of daily life and daily reality of the life that was before disaster. A cup, a bike, videotapes, books, clothes, shoes, a table. In the aftermath of the apocalypso the city have become a topia where the past is the event that happened and the future is seen in construction and volunteers walk- ing the streets and lands of the city. A city where the past is present in the visible remains of the event and a future that is awaiting. The presence becomes a paused time, a non time, on its way to something else. Ruins created by natural disasters is an unwanted topia, but it is also a forced physical spatiality that can become a new beginning and bring new uses for ar- chitecture. What happens when the physical frame is gone and the only thing left is a mental frame consisting of the memory of what was moreover, how can that be used to create new forms of architecture?
This thesis is about a method, a journey into the aftermath of a catastrophe and a reflection about, how we as architects can change the conditions of a state through simple means.
2013. , 176 p.