Reclaiming Normalcy

Architectural Scale - Idea Number 19

Reclaiming normalcy by retaining cultural values and initiating community involvement through the use of modular pods that house activities. These pods are a starting point and visual reminders of the current surrounding development. The Onsen pod is a center of relaxation for workers and cleansing for displaced city inhabitants. A vertical garden is compact and provides recreational activities to victims with too much free time. Restaurants reconnect families and friends over meals produced by volunteer chefs. The emergency communication pod receives and transmits information. Aid centers focus on health and wellness for pre and post circumstantial personal conditions. Memory boxes include found and collected family photos/ heirlooms, significant property of the city, and has storage capacity for claimed items without a proper home. These pods can be constructed in a city minimally effected by the tsunami. Upon completion, each one can be sent individually to cities who are currently without these necessities and capabilities. Overtime, the missing pod types can be recreated in the cities trying to rebuild in a way that is representative of that particular city’s identity.

Comment on this project at the OpenJapan Platform

SeArc Rehabilitates Marine Life in Coastal Cities with ECOncrete

@OpenJapan, a great precedent for the Synthetic Mangrove idea. How can infrastructure be condusive to all types of life?

“in the fields of sustainable development and conservation, research is usually done on terrestrial deforestation and land use. Marine biologists Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Ido Sella, of Israel-based SeArc Ecological Marine Consulting, have built their conservation work around the preservation of often ignored urban marine habitats. "The city does not end at the shore,” they proclaim; while only 15% of the Earth’s land surface is in coastal zones, 60%of human population lives and interacts with seas and oceans. Infrastructure put in place to support coastal urban areas modifies shorelines and facilitates the introduction of invasive species, causing marine habitat and biodiversity loss throughout the world’s shores. To bridge the need for urban marine development and sustainability, SeArc has created a series of modular infrastructure building blocks made from ECOncrete, an ecologically active concrete product that can serve as a host to sea organisms without compromising infrastructure needs.“


2013年8月5日(月曜日) はこだて国際民俗芸術祭 1日目 @元町公園



Ark Tower

Idea Number 18

The land scarcity in the disaster driven Tohuko Area calls for a tight knit design solution to keep people and nature together. The idea is to build a solid shelter that is able to survive in an earthquake-prone area. This shelter could be possible by using a vertical tower which has a minimum footprint while giving the maximum amount of space. This tower could become a first aid shelter and community home for the people in the immediate post-disaster period. It could produce basic needs as water supply (collecting rainwater), food (vertical farming) and energy (wind turbine). After time people will gradually spread out from the tower and recover the land around it. The tower itself will become less functional and start becoming more productive. It becomes part of nature until it is needed once again. In this way it can coexist in a anti-proportional cycle to the surrounding land.

Comment on this idea at the OpenJapan Platform


At the moment we are discussing this question together with you and next week we will have a brainstorming session at the ecosummit event in Berlin.

Join the conversation and help us:

If you are designer, thinker, creative person, engineer and you want to help OpenJapan please register here:


Household Survival Towers

Architectural Scale - Idea Number 58

The cites shall have special building codes which will require inland settlements to provide a survival tower for each house and/or each public building. The tower should have a normal function - A wind turbine or solar tower for example, but in cases of a natural disaster can function as shelters.

In the event of another tsunami, the wind tower would be possible to climb providing a safer location to withstand the disaster. In addition to providing useful de-centralized energy during normal times, the towers could include a GPS locating and/or communication capabilities in times of emergency; helping to link disaster victims with governmental and volunteer efforts.

Comment on this project at the OpenJapan Platform

OpenJapan - building knowledge
—  Dear friends and collaborators,

We at OpenSimSim are shocked and saddened by the multiple disasters that struck Japan this week, devastating the country’s northern infrastructure and reminding us all of the need for integrated systems of risk mitigation and the extraordinary vulnerability of urban centers, even in highly developed countries. 

While our thoughts and hearts are with our friends there, our mission as an international design network compels us to offer our help and assistance to the people of Japan by quickly activating our networks, sharing with them expertise and centers of innovation, and helping to generate good, useful ideas that will lead to both safer communities as well as create new opportunities for future growth and investment.

OpenSimSim partners (TranSolar, Imagine Network, and BaSiC Initiative) would like to inivite you join forces as a worldwide design collaborative
an effort to aid recovery toward long-term solutions that are sorely needed in many contexts – even among the richer nations, where risk mitigation is woefully neglected and underfunded. Japan stands out as a world leader in risk prevention and yet the combined impact of the earthquake, tsunami, fires, and small nuclear explosions overwhelmed preparation, challenging us all to think again about what it means to be safe.

Instead of donating money for the reconstruction effort (which is also very important), we would like to ask you to donate your time as designers, architects, engineers, IT experts, risk specialists, scientists, and entrepreneurs and offer the people of Japan the power of crowd thinking, which is a powerful means to propel the country beyond recovery.

Join the discussion, become partners, and invite all your friends to help us! 

Post your propsals here or send us an email to

Contaminated Zone to Productive Zone : Repurposing Fukushima

Urban Scale - Idea Number 50

Following the disasters at Fukushima, not only was a 20km diameter “no-go-zone” established, but Japan also lost 4,400 MW of valuable electricity-generating capability. Given that Japan’s previous energy policy foresaw 50% of all power coming from Atomic sources by 2030, clearly a new strategy is strongly required.

The proposed intervention aims to transform the current contaminated area into an area of production and memorial, returning Fukushima to an important energy-producing region. Whereas the radioactive zone was originally caused by the wind-dispersed radioactive contamination, the hope is to now harness that same natural phenomenon to create power.

A ring of turbines would visibly demarcate the current boundaries of the contaminated-zone, while offsetting the generating capacity lost from the Fukushima Daini Plant, and simultaneously dissipate the wind itself, thus reducing the further spread of air-based contaminants. The rings will then be planted with sunflowers and other species of plants to help remediate the radiation back to safe levels for people.

Comment on this project at the OpenJapan Platform

We Want Your Opinion! Help us select our next project!

Have you voted yet for OpenJapan’s Idea Selection poll on In the spirit of open source, OpenSimSim wants to know what you think are the most interesting or relevant ideas to help those of the March 11 Tsunami that struck Japan. The most popular ideas will be developed further for the upcoming book and become potential projects. Cast your vote by October 21st.

Vote here: OpenJapan Idea Entries Poll

Okidashi Housing

Architectural Scale - Idea Number 46

Local fisherman in the Tohoku region have a survival skill called “Okidashi” meaning “go out in the outer sea”. Fisherman would sail their boats into deeper water after a large earthquake to avoid the brunt of the tsunami and devastation. This old technique was recently highlighted in this CNN news article where the "Okidashi" skill saved the fisherman’s boat and allowed him to provide aid services to his fellow neighbors after the tsunami.

By applying this principle to housing, urban blocks on floating platforms and individual homes could be launched out into deeper waters during a tsunami to ride out its crest while it is still at a manageable scale.

OpenJapan is currently researching which kinds of systems and past precedents could be utilized to realize this vision.

Comment on this project on the OpenJapan Platform


OpenJapan Idea Selection on

OpenSimSim and OpenJapan needs the help of the cloud to help decide which ideas from our OpenJapan 72 hr Worksprint will be published in our upcoming book. OpenSimSim wants to know what you think are the most interesting or exciting ideas to include in our upcoming book which will be an integral part of a future exhibition. We will be using to gather opinions of the cloud to further detail and illustrate the most popular ideas.

OpenJapan Idea Selection Poll


Andam a reconstruir o Japão no Chiado

OpenJapan was already published twice in the Portuguese press.

The press clippings above are from the weekly magazine DOMINGO as part of the daily newspaper.


The article in the online newspaper IONLINE can be viewed here (in Portuguese):

Newspaper i is a young newspaper. Was awarded the prize “Best European Journal” in 2009, awarded by the European Newspaper Award, and “Newspapers best drawn of the Iberian Peninsula”, 2009, awarded by the Society for News Design - Spain contest where he won a total of 31 awards. The british newspaper The Guardian found newspaper i one of the world’s most innovative newspapers.

Written: Ricardo Paz Barroso

For all non-Portuguese speakers we translated the text below:

Title: Japan is being reconstructed at Chiado 

There is an allegory on the chaos theory, which says “when a butterfly flaps its wings in Portugal a catastrophe happens in China.” In Chiado, Lisbon, this allegory will be, hopefully, a little distorted, a group of architects, engineers and designers will “beat” the wings of creativity for three days and with that help the urban reconstruction of Japan after the earthquake. And the public will be able to follow, starting this Friday, all this work live (look in Lisbon ustream Open Japan) and part of an exhibition at the Quintela Palace, in Rua do Alecrim, 70.

It’s called “Open 72hr Workjam Japan - Lisbon” and indeed, there are nine cities in the world to beat their wings at the same time towards the reconstruction of Japan, which in March suffered one of the strongest quake on record, causing death and disappearance of nearly 25 000 people. More than 45 000 buildings need to be rebuilt, with about 160 000 people living in temporary shelters.

The project is ambitious. This group has different experts - architects, designers, illustrators, engineers and landscapers - in each of the cities involved to, as a team, create projects, solutions and ideas that can be applied in rebuilding the affected areas. Tokyo, Kyoto, Moscow, Chennai (India), Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, Turin, New York and Kansas are the nodes of this vast project of “open source”, where all the “sources” of creativity are on an equal footing, blurring boundaries between “authors”.

The choreography of this project is it too ambitious. Is reminiscent of the “exquisite-cadavre” of the Surrealists, a design collective in a folded paper without the following illustrator has knowledge of the previous design. The difference about Open Japan is that the earlier proposals are known and worked by all as the time pass.

The dance of creativity lasts 72 hours and begins in Japan from 2 am on Friday (GMT), Tokyo has six hours to roll over 33 descriptions of urban consequences resulting from the earthquake. After this time, the “testimony” is passed to Moscow and Chennai which, in turn, prepare proposals on those 33 descriptions at 2 pm, deliver projects to 3rd round, Berlin, Lisbon, Paris and Turin. The following is the fourth and final round, New York and Kansas City, returning the project to Japan.

The cycle is repeated three days, and the first day is dedicated to the scale of the city or area viewed as a whole, on the second day is the scale of buildings (and their features and types, for example), and finally, the human scale. All this will result in 99 projects to rebuild parts of the country devastated. The communication is all done through video conferencing and e-mail, using 3D images and elevations, in the spirit of “parametric architecture.”

This is where the newly graduated architects Ana Raquel Ferrão, Ricardo Borges Duarte, Bruno Pereira and Ana Teresa Hagatong enter. They are between 22 and 26 years and are responsible for this “racket” creative and supportive in Chiado. The idea came from the online platform OpenSimSim, a concept of “open source” related to urbanism and architecture, created by Daniel Dendra an architect from Berlin. Bruno Pereira had worked in the studio of Daniel and when he was here for about a month for a lecture challenged Bruno to organize the Open Japan - Lisbon.

Helping Japan is a major goal, but the group is very curious to see “how all these experts will work together for six hours, three days in a row, this is the great challenge of the project,” said Ricardo Borges Duarte. Lisbon will have about 30 specialists. There is a patron, Luís Santiago Baptista, architect and director of the magazine Arq/a, and two group leaders, the architects Pedro Pacheco and José Adrião. 

“We do not know what this will result, but that’s fine,” said Luis Santiago Baptista. “We only know that has a lot of potential to have unique results, it is a global work, but subject to different contexts and different cultures,” he added. “This will be an exchange of ideas in changing, I love this idea that creative work has no boundaries,” described, in turn, Pedro Pacheco. All this in a palace built between 1777 and 1788, 22 years after the great earthquake that shook Lisbon and awakened Europe to the concept of natural disaster.


The OpenJapan Lisbon node was organized by the following partners:

Bruno Ricardo Martins Pereira

Born in Lisbon in 1987. In 2010 graduated in Architecture in Lusíada University in Lisbon where he met Ana Teresa Hagatong and Ricardo Borges Duarte and did his Master with “Thinking Global, Acting Local - Sustainable Cities" as thesis theme. Began his professional career in anOtherArchitect Studio in Berlin, where stayed for 6 months, and made part of the design of POD for OpenSimSim that went to Venice Biennale. Currently is working in a Lisbon-based architecture studio LNA. Won a 3rd Prize in a Competition for a Sustainable City in Egypt with Ana Raquel Ferrão.

Ricardo Borges Duarte 

Born on 17.06.1984 in Lisbon. Graduated in Architecture at the Lusíada University of Lisbon and did master’s thesis on Rehabilitation and Sustainable Construction. During this period developed functions and knowledge in organizing events. Made part of a team with Bruno Pereira for 3 months in Edifer, creating a sustainable construction manual for a new company in the construction group. Currently is making his internship in Asset Valuation Laboratory of Architecture University of Lisbon.

Ana Teresa Hagatong

Born in 1986 in Lisbon. Graduated in Architecture at the Lusíada University of Lisbon and did her master’s thesis on the new uses of the heritage railway. Developed a proposal for a modular sustainable housing under the program of the Angolan government with Bruno Pereira and Ricardo Borges Duarte. Currently working in the architectural studio Embassy in Lisbon.

Ana Raquel Ferreira Fonseca Completo Ferrão

Was born in August 31, 1988. Studied an year in TU Berlin, where made project in LIA Studio with Finn Geipel from LIN and LCCBB with Vanessa Miriam Carlow from COBE Berlin. Made part of the association of the university where she organized events and conferences about architecture, fashion and design. Won a 3rd Prize in a Competition for a Sustainable City in Egypt with Bruno Pereira.  Currently is finishing her thesis in Architecture University of Lisbon about Flooded Lisbon 2100. 

Tokyo’s Underground Storm Water System

“The incredible engineering masterpiece pictured above is a massive stormwater management solution for the metropolitan area of the city of Saitama, Japan. While it looks like the set of the next action blockbuster or music video, the structure is real and will leave you washed away if you overstay your welcome when a typhoon hits. Coming in at 25.4 meters tall (83 feet) and 78 meters (255 feet) wide and running 177 meters long (580 feet), the massive underground system started construction in 1992, and is open for tourists interested in exploring a vast concrete landscape.”


New York City may get a Tidal Power Plant

New York company Verdant Power has filed for the nation’s first-ever application to build a tidal power plant. From 2006 – 2008, the company deployed six turbines in the East River, which provided energy to city businesses. John Miller, the executive director of the New England Marine Renewable Energy Center told the Christian Science Monitor that the application is a milestone for the off-shore energy industry. “[Verdant has] been the groundbreaker for this,” said Miller. “They’ve conducted a tremendous number of costly studies in order to show no harmful impacts on fish.”

Tidal power is not the strongest type of renewable energy, but Miller notes that it can be much cheaper to develop than wind or wave power because of its close proximity to land. He adds, “The other thing about it is that it’s incredibly predictable for centuries.”

Perhaps Kansas City will see a tidal power plant one day.