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Sanctuary Along the Coast

With time, Japan’s northeastern coast will recover and be rebuilt. Its economy will again flourish, as will its communities. With the rebuilding will come changes: housing may now be situated further from the shoreline, and the building methods may shift; a focus on renewable energy will go hand in hand with the erection of tsunami barriers.

Along with these considerations, however, there will still be the need for sanctuary along Japan’s coast. Some homes and community programs will remain within the water’s reach, and fishermen, various workers, and travelers will still occupy the shoreline on a daily basis. As such, there is a need for an effective early-warning system for tsunami, as well as a large, high gathering place, or sanctuary, which could serve to rescue people from danger in the event that they cannot evacuate the coast.

We propose that as the clean-up and rebuilding continues, the refuse—the wood, tires, building material, etc. currently strewn along the shore from the recent tsunami—be collected and, if not recyclable, corralled in several central locations along the country’s shoreline. As each mound builds, concrete walls will organize each refuse pile into an elevated platform, ramping up from the city grid. An elevated platform, made into a park, emerges from the concrete and stone walls, evoking Japan's musha-gaeshi, or medieval castle fortifications.

Located near evacuation routes at even distances along the shoreline, each platform would be large enough for 5,000 people or more to gather in the case of emergency, and tall enough to sit above dangerous water levels. The platforms are highly visible places where people would find each other, as well protection, in a time of uncertainty. Primarily landscaped parks, the platforms also act as gathering spaces for events, able to host any activity from an open-air fish or vegetable market to a rock concert. They are both places for community and enjoyment as well as abstract memorials to those who were not able to escape the recent natural disasters. These parks not only offer safety, but also hope and recovery.

This project was created for X-Knowledge Home No. 15, an "Idea Donation" issue edited by Hironori Watanabe and Akiko Shimizu which benefits the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief fund.