Archi+Aid supports “Toward the “311: Lost Homes” exhibition and symposium at Gallery Ma in Tokyo on view through December 24, 2011. Archi+Aid is a nonprofit organization created in support of the relief and recovery efforts by Architects for the Tohoku Eathquake and Tsunami. More than 200 Japanese architects are members who offer their service in the rebuilding efforts. 

Toward the "311: LOST HOMES" exhibition focuses on the meaning of architecture through exploring the potential of architecture and examining what happend in the recent earthquake. 
Every type of design-related activity is focused on the future. But since the terrible scenes of March 11, we have lost sight of what it means to design something, and have refrained from engaging in such discussions.

 Since it was established in 1985, TOTO GALLERY・MA has set out to convey the cultural power of architecture to both a Japanese and foreign audience. The things that we have displayed and expressed at the gallery are the actual thoughts of the architects. Moreover, we have consistently attempted to focus on design that appeals to the larger society. However, in the face of the desolate landscape of Sanriku, which was washed away in the tsunami, and the subsequent nuclear accident, which upended the foundations of engineering, we find ourselves at a loss for words.

There is a need to examine the situation as calmly as possible. And using the gallery's past approach, we would like to consider the meaning of architecture and, as a site that serves to explore the potential of architecture, present an exhibition related to the recent earthquake. Relying primarily on the architects and students who have gathered together to form ArchiAid, we have reconstructed several of the towns that were lost and have also created a display called "311 SCALE," which is a visualization of data related to the damage suffered in the event that was collected by the Nippon Design Center. 

What can we understand from these displays? An exhibition is for the most part an interpretation of reality and an arbitrary act performed by the presenter. Thus, it only truly functions as a slice of reality, and is little more than a trifling miniature of the real thing. In light of the huge scale of the earthquake, it is impossible to properly convey the event in a single exhibition. Instead, the presenter and viewer must use their architectural eye and mind to fill in the huge gaps with their imagination.

How should we deal with the present set of circumstances? It is our hope that as a venue that works to explore architectural ideas, this exhibition will prove to be useful in answering this question.

Hiroshi Naito / Kenya Hara
Supervisors of the "311: LOST HOMES" Exhibition

Members of the TOTO GALLERY・MA Plannnig & Management Committee
September 1,  2011
The Great East Japan Earthquake, which occurred on March 11, 2011, was an unprecedented event that has affected everyone living in Japan. While mourning those who lost their lives in the disaster, we would like to express our sincere sympathy to everyone who was forced to evacuate the area and has not yet been able to return home.

At present, as restoration efforts continue throughout the Tohoku region, there are a variety of other energetic activities underway. At the same time, however, due to the vast scale of the damage, many people have still not been able to come to grips with the situation as a whole. Thus, in the belief that the first step to restoration is to clearly ascertain what happened on March 11, TOTO GALLERY・MA, as a platform for architectural culture, presents a special exhibition titled "311: LOST HOMES," which examines the earthquake from an architectural standpoint, and a related symposium titled "311: Starting Over from Point Zero.

Overseen by the architect Hiroshi Naito and the graphic designer Kenya Hara, both of whom are members of the gallery's planning and management committee, the exhibition presents a multi-faceted overview using models to reconstruct a number of townscapes as they looked prior to the disaster and displays of factual data related to the events that occurred on March 11. The exhibition is designed to help answer questions about what happened, what was lost, and what should be learned from the experience.

For one display, 14 neighborhoods that were destroyed in the earthquake and tsunami have been reconstructed in the form of 1/500-scale models. In addition, using the "311 SCALE," which consists of visualizations of four types of data which accurately convey the impact of the disaster, we present the factual information about what happened. In the symposium, in order to further explore the significance of the displays in the exhibition, we will present discussions between a number of Japan's leading architects who are working to help restore the stricken area. 

In returning to ground zero through these two events, we are attempting to dispatch a message to Tokyo from the distant stricken area, where the long road to recovery began on March 11. By assembling a wide range of people, everyone from those working in the architecture field to members of the general public, and children to senior citizens, who were perhaps unable to make the trip to the stricken area themselves, it is our hope that this exhibition and symposium will inspire each visitor to consider and discuss what they have learned from the experience and then return to their own activities.