INISE

BARKA’s encounters with Japanese architects to create projects of support to communities hit by tsunami

On the 16th of July representatives of Barka UK met with Ms Shizuka Hariu, director of Shizuka Hariu & Shin Hagiwara Architecture + Scenography. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss possibilities of cooperation in the north-eastern coast of Japan, which in March 2011 was affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

BARKA UK first met Shizuka Hariu and her colleagues on February 26, 2014., during a symposium at the Embassy of Japan in London on the involvement of Japanese architects in the rebuilding of communities in the north – eastern coast of Japan, after the earthquake and tsunami that occurred in March 2011 (referred to as the Great East Japan Earthquake).

Shizuka Hariu & Shin Hagiwara Architecture + Scenograph, based in Brussels, has been involved in projects to support Japanese communities in areas affected by the tsunami. The Association cooperates with local organizations and architects, as well as local governments to help rebuild destroyed infrastructure and implementing community projects aimed at prevention and protection of the population (eg the construction of the emergency towers, raising the level of embankment, creating shafts in order to build on them residential buildings).

All projects are carried out with the involvement of local people and with particular regard to the topography and characteristics of the area.

Ms. Shizuka Hariu comes from a small town on the north-east coast, which was at the center of the area covered by the tsunami. The town, called Yuriage, is a fishing port, which – as reported by international media in March 2011, „was wipt from the map” .

The biggest challenge was returning to an empty ghost town to set up a community” – Shizuka said during her speech at the Embassy of Japan in London.  „When our office heard about the tsunami, we felt strongly towards the disaster relief especially considering our European and Japanese connections. We have been working for three years now to develop volunteer activities through interviews with local residents, site visits, cooperating with local architects to better define the needs of the victims.  On the day of tsunami, I was working in the theatre in Tokyo. I watched the live television the huge tsunami was hitting … It was traumatic and Tokyo was silent forever on that day. When a huge scale disaster occurs people begin to think about how to start again or how to support the victims (…) – said Shizuka Hariu.

 Shizuka also explained how important it was to share engineers’ knowledge in helping to respond to disasters. She explained that Japanese engineers have the knowledge to protect earthquakes on level 8/9. Whereas in Europe, there is only knowledge of level 2 to 4 protection. “ By sharing these ideas and educating others we can save more lives by responding quickly and more effectively” – said Shizuka.

 During a meeting with Barka in London on July 16,  Shizuka talked about the trauma experienced by a number of Japanese people affected by the disaster (children, youth,  people who lost their families ). Barka representatives learned that Japanese communities would benefit from the tools and methodologies developed by Barka Foundation in Poland in the last 25 years. These experiences could be useful to help renew some of Japan’s „social fabric” and help families re-build their lives. Ms. Shizuka was interested in Polish model of local partnerships and the idea of ​​a social market economy and implementing it in practice. Ewa Sadowska introduced the projects of Barka in Poland to rebuild local communities after the devastation caused by totalitarian regimes and the II world war. There was a discussion on the role of the social economy (social enterprises, social integration centers, clubs for social inclusion, etc.) in tackling material poverty (as well as the spiritual and moral poverty), and about overcoming mental barriers. Shizuka Hariu expressed interest for her association to become a member of INISE (International Network of Innovative Social Entrepreneurship). Discussed were also joint proposals to the European Commission and the Government of Japan to carry out social entrepreneurship work with the local communities of Japan. Barka extended an invitation to Shizuka and her colleagues to visit Barka Foundation projects in Poland. The visit is planned to take place in September 2014.

 More information on the work of Shizuka Hariu and Shizuka Hariu & Shin Hagiwara Architecture + Scenography :

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