Architect as emergency response worker: that’s the concept behind ArchiAid, an organization founded after Japan’s March 11th tsunami and earthquake that aims to help revive the battered coastal region. The group of over 200 architects—which includes UCLA Department of Architecture Chair Hitoshi Abe and dozens of other well-known Japanese architects—have held symposiums and workshops, joined local planning committees, interviewed disaster victims about the history of their obliterated villages, and drawn up town plans that take safety, sustainability, and culture into account. I caught up with Yasuaki Onoda, a founding member of ArchiAid, professor at Tohoku University’s Department of Architecture in Sendai, and collaborator with Toyo Ito on the Sendai Mediatheque building. When I left his design lab at around ten in the evening, he and his students were still bent over their models, tirelessly designing the future towns of Tohoku.
September 20, 2011