A new word has been added to the vocabulary of Japanese architects: 3/11. That's the date when an earthquake and tsunami killed 20,000 people, crashed through over 900,000 buildings along 300 miles of coastline, and sparked a nuclear crisis that is undermining faith in conventional energy systems. It's also shorthand for an irrevocable line between old ways of thinking and new. Suddenly energy independence and disaster resistance are mainstream design priorities—and architects are taking on the challenge with a vengeance.
"Especially those in the younger generation see the reconstruction as their calling," said Kumiko Matsuki, art producer at Tokyo's Orie Gallery, one of several venues currently showing proposals for a safer, more sustainable rebuild. The Orie exhibit features ideas from eight teams of top young architects, and heads next to the heavily-hit cities of Sendai, in Miyagi Prefecture, and Soma, in Fukushima. We've posted five of the proposals here, along with five from another exhibit.