Memorial Community Center

Memorial Community Center design & construction
Begins Summer 2011

Built with the people of Minami Sanriku, a much-needed Community Center which can also serve to memorialize this place of disaster underlies the core of the MIT Japan 3.11 Initiative. The diverse locations of temporary housing currently being constructed for displaced persons will fragment families and neighbors, the town’s center of activity will be absent, and daily activities outside the temporary shelters will be dispersed. A substantial public building will both symbolize the town’s resurgence of hope and will accommodate practical community needs for the town rising out of its vast ruins.

The MIT Japan 3/11 Initiative Team started this summer with design workshops, off-site component fabrication and a kit-of-parts for shipping and assembly. Such a communal structure may endure well beyond the two years that it is projected community members will remain in temporary housing.

After the in-depth stage of field analysis in Utatsu, the students focused on developing the first schematic designs for the Memorial Community Center based on the ideal sites discovered.  These areas created a “constellation of nodes” for reactivating the community.

Although each group focused conceptually on particular programs, the Memorial Community Center could incorporate such diverse uses as outdoor public gardens, an information center, relief agency facilities, a daycare, kindergarten, eldercare center, shops for produce vendors, workspaces and multi-purpose lofts, a podium for events, a public bathhouse, and an arbor. The young and old can pitch in with their skills and enthusiasm, utilizing non-flammable wood from the region’s forests and stones of Ishi-nomaki, keeping in mind a structure earthquake-strong and away from tsunami inundation.