Living memorial : 10 years after the Fukushima triple disaster

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Chiang, Ying Olivia
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
Budgett, Jeanette
Hall, Min
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Namie (Fukushima, Japan)
Japan, March 2011
Great East Japan Earthquake
Fukushima nuclear accident
disaster memorials
memorial design
memory in architecture
dark tourism
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Chiang, Y. O. (2020). Living memorial : 10 years after the Fukushima triple disaster. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTION: How do we construct meaningful architecture in post-disaster Namie in Fukushima Prefecture? ABSTRACT: Living Memorial: 10 Years After the Fukushima Triple Disaster Nearly a decade after the 2011 Fukushima triple disaster (the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown), some towns are still largely abandoned. A 12-m-high seawall was built along the coast, 17 million m3 of contaminated soil was removed, and tonnes of contaminated water were stored in tanks. Some towns have been rebuilt, however, Namie Town, 8 km from the nuclear power plant, is still a ghost town. Since 2017 when the evacuation order was lifted, only five percent of its original population has moved back, and only a stone monument commemorates those who died. The living memorial is intended to remember and revitalise the community of Namie, and to educate and to build awareness of the effects of the cataclysmic disaster. In post-disaster sites, the community plays an essential role in rebuilding the economy and society, as well as sustaining community livelihoods. Equally, the past and effects of the disaster need to be preserved and addressed to educate people and to memorialise those who lost their lives. Designing a place for multiple uses that fosters community engagement, invites the public to commemorate, and hosts cultural events can strengthen memorialisation and rebuild the community. The place can be a ‘living memorial’ that improves the community and draws memorialisation closer to recreation. This research will investigate aspects of dark tourism and artistic responses such as ruin photography. Dark tourism can unearth information that has been suppressed. The project will apply Richard Sharpley and Philip Stone’s spectrum to determine the ‘shades’ and ‘darkness’ of a dark site to design a suitable memorial landscape and architecture in Namie. Furthermore, memorial architecture is investigated to understand how it can recall and prolong historical memories and take part in post-disaster reconstruction. Despite the decontamination clean-up and government assurances about safety, the community’s economic future is precarious. What the town needs is a place that fosters community engagement, brings visitors and provides job opportunities. The memorial landscape and architecture for Namie is both a folk museum and memorial to educate visitors on the past and the effects of the disaster. The project curates a journey for visitors across a memorial landscape. The building is located between the hills, which are regarded as sacred, and the sea, where many fishermen worked. The landscape is shaped to reflect the original farmland ditches, and recalls the volumes of earth excavated in the clean-up. Inside the building, visitors descend below grade, a solemn reminder of the tragedy. Here historical exhibits tell stories of the place before they arrive in the space of remembrance: a shrine to those lost. The building reflects traditional Japanese architectural elements such as a curved roof with deep overhangs, sunken and elevated spaces, elevated verandas, and the beauty of light and shadow. The memorial landscape and architecture aims to assist the economic rebuild of the community and create the building as a valuable asset to welcome visitors,
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