The city of Kesenuma, Japan is struggling to recover after the tsunami and still working to get their ships back into the water instead of sitting in the middle of the streets. To help support the city, students at Keio University have designed a flourishing pavilion made from thousands of wooden fish that will soon be erected. The Fish Arch is constructed of grooved fish made from digitally cut wood scraps, and it is assembled like a puzzle. The fish display messages of encouragement as the city works to rebuild its lives and fisheries, which are a critical part of the local economy.
Like many cities along the eastern seaboard of Japan affected by the tsunami, Kesennuma is struggling. While there are lots of fish still out swimming in the ocean waiting to be caught, the town’s fisheries, processing facilities and canneries are still sitting in ruins. Until they can be rebuilt, most of the towns’ residents cannot return to work. In support of the city, the students (who are members of Yasushi Ikeda’s lab at Keio University) are building an arch for a temporary installation at a city-planned summer festival. A Kesennuma lumber yard donated thousands of pieces of scrap wood to the rebuilding effort, which the students decided to use in their project.
Each piece of scrap wood was no larger than a sheet of paper, so structurally they were limited in how they could build with the material. As Ikeda’s lab specializes in digital fabrication, the team came up with a design that would utilize the scraps, cut them into fish, and engineer them into an arch. The team also wanted to be able to involve other students as well as residents of the city, so they decided to keep the assembly process as simple as possible. Fish naturally became the theme as the students cut thousands of wooden fish out of the scraps. Earlier this month the team invited people on-campus to check out their design and write messages of encouragement on the fish. Then the visitors were then asked to install their fish to build a portion of the arch.
In August, the team will take their fish to Kesenuma and build the completed arch with the help of residents from the city. The entire structure will then appear as a school of fish jumping, and visitors will be able to read each handwritten message with good wishes and energy for the town. After the festival, the temporary pavilion will be placed in either a museum or a local school, or it will be disassembled and distributed to the residents as a reminder of the support.
Still want to help in the recovery efforts in Japan? Help us donate $10,000 to Architecture for Humanity to rebuild the Hikado Marketplace in Motoyoshi.
Project Images Courtesy of Ikeda lab, Keio University
Images of Kesenuma ©Erez Golani, Waseda University