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Community design for temporal housing sites in the tsunami stricken area<CategoryⅡ>

Junichiro OKATA

Project Director : Junichiro OKATA
(Professor, School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo)


Project goals

1) To construct minimum community infrastructure, especially care services for young children and older adults, to rebuild the lives of residents of the temporary housing in areas, such as Otsuchi, Kamaishi, and Toono, that were damaged by tsunami on March 11, 2011, by helping the people to identify and collaboratively tackle the challenges to be resolved to achieve this goal

2) To propose a model design of temporary housing for the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake in both physical/material and social/relational terms

3) To develop a model design for the small, autonomous communities of regional towns that are located away from each other while accommodating the growing population of older adults

Project overview

Due to the fact that suitably safe sites have been impossible to obtain close to the disaster-affected area of the Sanriku region,, the local authorities have shifted the construction of temporary housing to more remote and dispersed sites. The affected residents are required toreconstruct their lives over 2 to 5 years living in this temporary housing, after which they are expected to move on to these reconstructed sites. Further problems, such as deaths in isolation of elderly persons in temporary housing areas, are also well known from Japan’s experiences in the wake of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and the Mid Niigata Prefecture earthquake.
Temporary housing built for the purpose of shelter is simply just not enough to reconstruct actual human lives. Rebuilding the bare minimum of community infrastructure is also essential (more specifically, preventing natural disasters, crime, traffic accidents, and other hazards, ensuring basic fire prevention and safety, ensuring adequate means of public transport to enable commuting and shopping, securing utilities such as gas, electricity, water and sewerage, and communication, establishing open spaces and community spaces enabling residents to communicate, interact and play, installing social services such as child care, education, welfare, nursing, and healthcare, as well as building facilities such as grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, hairdressers, and other stores and services). It is also essential to rebuild places of employment to serve as an economic base.
In particular, ensuring adequate care for the elderly in these temporary housing is not only a problem for the quality of life and survival of elderly persons themselves; it is also an issue crucial to the reconstructing the lives both of the families and entire communities in which the elderly are involved. Since it is difficult to provide adequate care only via official medical and nursing services, it is essential to develop community care system (care and support through mutual assistance offered by residents).
In addition, given the geographic circumstances, since the temporary housing has the potential to reconstruct urban life(transfer sites for settlement) in the future, maintaining community infrastructure in these temporary housing sites is not only a basic condition for rebuilding human lives, but is also significant as it will form the basis for early reconstruction of urban community infrastructure in the future.

Outline of research & development methods
This is being handled in a 4-team framework. These teams are:
a) Medical: Community Care Support Team (investigating care for the elderly and other residents and their mental and physical condition)
b) Job: Community Activities Management Team (supporting the launch and operation of self-organization for temporary housing sites and supporting activities to develop the various functions needed to support reconstruction of daily lives as services utilizing residents’ mutual assistance)
c) Housing: Community Space Management Team (coordinating spaces according to the needs development of temporary housing sites)
d) Housing: Overall Program Coordination Team (overall planning and coordinating, as well as maintaining the wide-area infrastructure outside temporary housing areas)
For the initial year, we propose the early development of basic infrastructure: rebuilding the community—such as the residents’ association—by holding various events, the discovery of spatial and social needs through identification of problem areas by residents, as well as a thorough investigation into the physical and psychological state of local residents and their desire to rebuild. For the 2nd and 3rd years, as well as moving to undertake various measures (social experiments) to stimulate community care, we will proceed with reconstruction by building the ideal image of urban development as outlined by the local residents’ council. We will conduct regular awareness surveys, as well as mental and physical health surveys of the residents, in order to perform comparative analyses between the different conditions in various temporary housing sites. In the latter half of the third year, we will undertake to compile a sequence of social experimental research, and to make publically available the knowledge obtained (as a design model for a new aging society) while also carrying the findings over to government agencies.

Results expected

1) Regeneration and rebirth of communities in temporary housing areas

2) Development of community infrastructure through the activities of local residents

3) Succession of the temporary community to the rebuilt community

4) Plans for reconstructed urban development founded upon the needs and activities of local residents

5) Earning physical and social models for next-generation temporary housing site communities

6) Development of temporary community models among the general community


The University of Tokyo
The town of Otsuchi
The city of Kamaishi
The city of Tono

Community spotlight: The town of Otsuchi (Iwate Prefecture)

After the town of Otsuchi sustained more than nearly 90% damage from the 2011 tsunami, even its supermarkets and prefectural hospital are now operating from temporary facilities. In Otsuchi, with the exception of low-lying waterfront areas ravaged by the tsunami, the only flat terrain is the farmland (and the residential areas which were once farmland) running alongside the Kozuchigawa and Otsuchigawa rivers; accordingly, a great deal of temporary housing is dispersed through these riverside agricultural areas. For the fishing village communities of Ando, Akahama, Kirikiri, and Namiita, small-scale temporary housing sites have been sparsely situated on steeply sloped sites in the vicinity of the affected areas, but the temporary housing sites for victims located in the central part of town have been distributed along the banks of the Kozuchigawa and Otsuchigawa rivers. All of these temporary housing sites are marked by poor existing facilities in the surrounding communities—inconvenient bus routes, narrow roads (and bridges)—which causes great difficulties for daily life. It is fair to say that community infrastructure must be built from the ground up here, starting with the identification of problems by the local residents themselves, and that residents, government, experts, and external supporters must come together to construct the community infrastructure necessary to meet the inherent needs of the area.


Reports, Research Results, etc